Sleeping with the political enemy
In Howard Hawks’ uproarious screwball comedy classic Bringing Up Baby, a shrewd but impetuous young woman (Katharine Hepburn) ambushes a stodgy, prematurely middle-aged dinosaur scientist (Cary Grant) and drives him so far out of his comfort zone that in the movie’s penultimate moment, the poor bugger greets his prospective mother-in-law in drag with the exclamation, “I’ve just gone gay!”
In director/co-writer Michel Leclerc’s enchanting, screwball-like political farce The Names of Love, opening Friday, an equally impetuous young French woman of Algerian descent corners a stodgy, middle-aged animal doctor who performs autopsies on dead ducks to detect the onset of bird flu.
Arthur Martin (just one of 15,207 people in France with that name), meet Baya Benmahmoud (“No one in France has that name.”) These two completely incompatible types, who would flunk every computer dating match, meet through the fickle fate of a TV call-in show.
He’s the slightly pompous expert who only manages to make everybody feel more paranoid about a revenge-of-nature problem; she’s the helplessly inept apprentice talk-show phone screener who, after dismissing callers as jerks, invades the studio to confront the expert in the middle of his drone.