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Film / What's in a Name?

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What's in a Name? (Le Prénom) is a 2012 French comedy film written and directed by Alexandre de La Patellière and Matthieu Delaporte, starring Patrick Bruel, Valérie Benguigui, Charles Berling, Judith El Zein, Guillaume de Tonquédec. It is an adaptation of a homonymous play by the same authors and with almost the same cast. Élisabeth and her husband Pierre invite her brother Vincent, his wife Anna and Claude, a childhood friend, for dinner. Anna is pregnant and Vincent announces that they intend to call their son Adolphe. This shocks Élisabeth and Pierre.


What's in a Name? provides examples of:

  • Babies Make Everything Better: The birth of Vincent and Anna's child seems to solve all the problems of the family.
  • Book Dumb: Vincent did not get good marks at school and he has a shallow culture, but he is an affluent estate agent.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Élisabeth and her husband Pierre: they are both leftist teachers, they do not have TV, they read the leftist magazine Télérama, their children bear a double-barrelled surname and original given names (Apollin and Myrtille).
  • Brick Joke:
    • Soon after he arrives, Claude says he could accept a position in Marseille, not far from the house of Vincent and Élisabeth's mother. Later, it is revealed he has a relationship with her.
    • Vincent thinks that an old male acquaintance, Antoine Flemmadon, is a perfect match for Claude and he arranged a meeting between them. Later, when Claude says he has a relationship with a woman, Vincent asks if his lover is Antoine Flemmadon.
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  • The Cameo: Bernard Murat (the director of the theatre play) as an obstetrician.
  • Camp Straight: Claude is a 38 year old bachelor. He is a musician. He lives in the Gay Marais. He wears orange. He makes batter pudding. He has manicures. He likes Étienne Daho, Cary Grant and Luchino Visconti... but he has relationship with Vincent and Élisabeth's mother.
  • Career Versus Man: Élisabeth says that she sacrificed her PhD to safeguard Pierre's success.
  • Childhood Friends: Élisabeth and Vincent are brother and sister. Pierre and Claude are their childhood friends.
  • Credits Gag: The French title of the film, Le Prénom, means The Given Name. In the opening credits, only the given names are written.
  • Delayed Narrator Introduction: The Narrator delivers an Opening Monologue using the third person, then he reveals he is Vincent.
  • Dinner and a Show: The whole movie is about a dinner bringing together siblings and childhood friends. And then breaking them apart.
  • Family Versus Career: Élisabeth says her career is not brilliant because she must take care of her children.
  • The Film of the Play: The film is a faithful adaptation of the 2010 play of the same name. The cast of the film is nearly the same as the one of the play.
  • Happily Married: Subverted. Both Élisabeth and Pierre and Anna and Vincent are described as happily married in the Opening Monologue. The film reveals the couples are not so happy, in particular Élisabeth and Pierre's.
  • I Banged Your Mom: Claude has a relationship with Vincent and Élisabeth's mother. They are both angry when they hear it.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Everybody agrees (even his wife) that Vincent is selfish.
    • And Pierre who is the one to call him the most out does so funnily enough because of himself being very egotistical.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Pierre graduated from an École normale supérieure, a very selective college.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The English title is taken from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.
  • The Matchmaker: Vincent thinks that an old acquaintance, Antoine Flemmadon, is a perfect match for Claude, so he arranges a meeting between them.
  • May–December Romance: Claude, who is younger than Vincent, has a relationship with his mother. They seem to love each other.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Everybody has assumed for years that Claude is gay. He is not. He has a relationship with Vincent and Élisabeth's mother.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Françoise, Vincent and Élisabeth's mother, has a relationship with Claude, their childhood friend.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Anna does not know that Vincent has deluded the others into thinking that they will call their son Adolphe. She thinks he told them they will call him after his father. So when she tells them she thought they would appreciate the allusion, they are shocked.
  • Opening Monologue: Delivered by the Narrator, Vincent, and paired with a closing monologue.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Élisabeth delivers one to her husband Pierre, then another one to her brother Vincent.
  • Romancing the Widow: Claude has charmed Vincent and Élisabeth's mother, years after their father died.
  • Saying Too Much: After hearing that his friends thought he was gay, Claude is progressively led to confess that he has a relationship with Vincent and Élisabeth's mother, which he wanted to keep secret.
  • Shout-Out: Vincent says he will call his son Adolphe as a tribute to Benjamin Constant's novel.
  • The Un-Favourite: Élisabeth is this compared to her brother Vincent. She says her parents gave him much more leeway.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?:
    • Subverted. Vincent announces that he will call his son Adolphe. Élisabeth and Pierre are shocked because they think everybody will assume this is a tribute to Hitler. Actually, Vincent was joking.
    • Vincent and Anna confess they think Élisabeth and Pierre's children have embarrassing first names: Apollin and Myrtille.


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