Two Tickets to Greece

Laure Calamy, Olivia Cote and Kristin Scott Thomas in Two Tickets to Greece. Image courtesy Palace Films

M, 111 minutes

4 Stars

Review by © Jane Freebury

Blazing sunlight, deep blue seas, white-washed walls and plenty of space on the beach for everyone to do their own thing. The siren call of the Greek islands is timeless, but the enticing holiday destination is put under serious strain with an incompatible travel companion. Two Tickets to Greece throws together two single women, total opposites, on a jaunt across the Aegean Sea that’s funny, smart and generous, though it will make you cringe. Just a little bit.

A withdrawn divorcee who works in radiology, Blandine (Olivia Cote), is planning a retreat with calm and quiet as she gets used to the idea that her former husband will soon be married, to a younger woman, and will become a dad again. Humph.

Funny, smart, generous and it will make you cringe

What’s more, her only son, Benjamin (Alexandre Desrousseaux), is about to leave home too. His parting gesture is arranging a meal out with his mum’s former classmate Magalie, a freelance music journalist who is as extrovert as Blandine is introvert, as adventurous and fun-seeking as Blandine is cautious and, er yes, bland. The awkward encounter somehow segues into the women, once teenage friends now in their forties, planning a holiday together, just as Benjamin hoped.

The idea of a dream holiday in the Greek islands first took off when they watched The Big Blue as teenagers. Its impact probably had as much to do with the presence of two hunky Frenchmen, youthful Jean Reno and Jean-Marc Barr in the lead roles, than the freediving sport that dominated their lives. Luc Besson’s cult film was shot on the island Amorgos, which naturally became a destination of choice for Magalie and Blandine.

In a lovely scene inside a taverna soon after they arrive, Magalie is already dancing on tables. Seated around it are a group of mature-age archaeologists, but it only adds to the charm of the moment. Blandine watches affectionately as her friend morphs into her teenage self, and we can appreciate the bond they once had.

Magalie has dyed her hair blonde to have fun, though she need hardly bother

Magalie just wants to have fun. To ensure she doesn’t miss out on that, she has dyed her hair blonde, though she hardly need bother. Even with her natural brunette waves, she has that elan, that ‘je ne sais quoi’.

The differences between Blandine and Magalie are hard to bridge, until the pair pay a visit to another old friend of Magalie’s, Bijou (Kristin Scott Thomas), who lives the blissfully natural life every day of the year. Having the dubious privilege of being born in an English castle, Bijou has left all of that behind to live on a remote Greek island with her loving Greek partner, as far away from her aristocratic connections as she can. Seeing her get high or tenderizing octopus during the prep for lunch presents a welcome, earthy version of the frosty persona usually channelled by the excellent Scott Thomas.

The girls’ trip to Greece is the work of writer-director Marc Fitoussi, one of the writers of the hit French television series Call My Agent! It is a world away from a certain trip to Greece, a blokes’ version with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, as the two brilliant raconteurs compete for the upper-hand with their brilliant impersonations. In the girls’ trip, although the stakes are somewhat earthier.

Laure Calamy slips into her role of an uninhibited free spirit, effortlessly, and demonstrates her uninhibited approach to nudity. She was irresistible in Caroline Vignal’s hit comedy, Antoinette in the Cevennes, several years ago, as a woman chasing her married lover on his family walking holiday. For all Antoinette’s amorous determination, she spent most time trying to wrangle her pack donkey.

As a woman hopelessly in love with a married man in Call My Agent!, Calamy achieved international profile as a woman conducting an illicit office affair. Outside of characters entangled in relationships, we have seen the actress in Full Time recently, as a single mother coping with impossible demands of work and motherhood.

Here Calamy is a creature driven by impulse. The only things on her mind when she gate-crashes Blandine’s pilgrimage are sun, sea, margaritas, and men, maybe a hunky Australian surfer. If Magalie is annoying and her brash, opportunism grates a bit, she does also show courage and heart. There is something so infectious and delicious about her joy.

First published in the Canberra Times on 29 December 2023. Jane’s reviews are also published on Rotten Tomatoes