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Film / The Married Couple of the Year Two

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The Married Couple of the Year Two (Les Mariés de l'an Deux in French) is a 1971 French swashbuckler comedy film directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and written by Claude Sautet. Michel Legrand composed the soundtrack.

Nicolas Philibert (Jean-Paul Belmondo) fled France in 1787, after killing a nobleman who tried to woo his wife, Charlotte (Marlène Jobert), and ended up in South Carolina. Five years later, he's made a fortune for himself and he's about to marry the heiress of a rich American corn trader, when he's suddenly denounced as bigamist right amidst the wedding ceremony — he's still legally married to his wife, who stayed in France. Divorce has been legalized in France under the First Republican regime since the start of the The French Revolution, so Nicolas has to go back to his birth country and divorce from Charlotte. Which isn't as simple as it sounds, especially since his feelings for his wife get rekindled, and France is in a Civil War under the Reign of Terror when he comes back.

The film is one of the few involving the French Revolution that does not contain a single scene set in Paris. "Year Two" refers to the second year of the French Republican Calendar, which replaced the Gregorian Calendar from 1793 to 1805.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Charlotte started new relationships when Nicolas was in exile in America, and so did Nicolas there.
  • Accidental Hero: Nicolas, from both sides of the Civil War. He gets celebrated on the Revolutionary side because he brought corn to Nantes where hungry people abound, then on the Royalist side because he saved the life of Pauline during her botched Assassination Attempt. He doesn't care in any case, as all he wants is to divorce from his wife and return to the USA. And he ends up antagonizing both factions.
  • Assassination Attempt: The Royalist Pauline de Guérande attempts to assassinate the People's Representative when performing in a spectacle as "the Goddess of Reason". When she has to crown the Representative, she pulls a flintlocke gun on him... which jams. Nicolas has to step in to save her to get informations about his wife's whereabouts.
  • Automaton Horses: Averted in the climax, when the horse Nicolas uses ends up collapsing after running too much.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: After a while, Henri admits to his sister Pauline (who's always been jealous of the attention that her brother gave to Charlotte) that there's always been "only her" in his thoughts. They're last seen riding away together on a horse...
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Nicolas and Charlotte have known each other since their childhood, then married.
  • City Mouse: Among the Chouans, there are many nobles who have had to adjust to rural life since they have to live in hiding far from their castles and cities. It includes setting up bedrooms in stables.
  • Civil War: On the way to his wife, Nicolas has to navigate between the two factions at war in 1793, the Revolutionaries (the Republic's side) and the Chouans (the Royalist insurgency) and barely escapes death from both sides.
  • Distant Finale: The end of the film happens 15 years after the battle, in 1809, under the First Empire.
  • Divorce in Reno: Divorce is not possible in the USA and Charlotte can't even be present for that, but it has been recently legalized in France, so Nicolas has to travel back to France to divorce from her.
  • Driving a Desk: There's rear projection during the horse rides with dialogues.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Saint-Aubin starts drinking out of being a Hopeless Suitor to Pauline, and especially since she sets her sights on Nicolas.
  • Dude Magnet: Charlotte. In addition to her boyfriend Henri, there's a returning Nicolas who didn't expect to regrow feelings for her, as well as the Prince. And there was also the baron that Nicolas killed, who tried to woo her while she was already married.
  • Eat the Rich: Since this is the Reign of Terror, Revolutionaries/Republicans hunt down aristocrats and anyone they suspect of being this.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Prince's name is never pronounced.
  • The Exile: Nicolas fled to the USA in 1787 after killing a baron who was a little too interested in his wife.
  • Fainting: Charlotte faints several times, most of the time due to Nicolas being around when he really shouldn't.
  • Final Battle: A battle between the French Republic's troops and the Austrians happens in Alsace in the climax, and Nicolas tries to reach Charlotte in the middle of it.
  • Here We Go Again!: In the Distant Finale, Nicolas and Charlotte are still together, this time as part of the First Empire nobility under Napoléon Bonaparte, and they're still having a dispute.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Saint-Aubin is attracted to Pauline, who rejects his advances.
  • Lover Tug of War: Charlotte ends up in one between Nicolas and the prince in the climax. Between two running stagecoaches no less.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Nicolas, Saint-Aubin and the Prince end up in a three-way sword duel over Charlotte. Nicolas uses a pitchfork, and quickly flees with Charlotte.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Gender-Inverted Trope. Laura is deeply jealous of the attention her brother Henri gives to Charlotte and wants to "protect" her brother from her. It turns out it's very much out of incestuous feelings.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Lucas, the accountant of Gosselin (Charlotte's father) pretends to be deaf, but it turns out he really isn't.
  • Off with His Head!: After Pauline's Assassination Attempt, Nicolas is falsely accused of participating in her plot and gets condemned to the guillotine. He is saved from it by his friend Simon.
  • Race for Your Love: Nicolas crosses France from West to East on horse to reach Charlotte in the climax as the Prince attempts a Run for the Border with her. Maybe he does so to divorce from her again since the paper is lost... or because he loves her? Or maybe it's just his destiny to run after her, whatever the reason.
  • Run for the Border: The Prince wants to reach the Eastern border of France in Alsace as fast as possible with Charlotte so they'll be under the protection of the Austrians. The war front is moving in said area at the time.
  • Self-Made Man: Nicolas travelled to the USA in 1787 as a stowaway with nothing in his pocket. Five years later, he is quite wealthy and about to marry the daughter of an even more wealthy guy.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: When Nicolas and the American girl he wants to marry are in front of the priest, someone objects to them being married, pretending Philibert was already married in France (which is true). Which causes the bride to scream, and a big fight ensues when Nicolas wants to punch the guy who objected.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Saint-Aubin is deeply jealous that Pauline sets her sights on Nicolas and wants to provoke Nicolas into a duel by throwing down his gauntlet at him (or maybe slap him with it). Nicolas takes it from his hands as he tries and slaps him instead, and a fistfight ensues.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Nicolas' companion during his escape from the guillotine gets quickly killed by Chouans insurgents.