Movie: Love at First Fight (Les Combattants)

I love France . . . and French movies. This afternoon I came across a movie on Netflix called Love at First Fight (original title: Les Combattants) from 2014. It's about a young woman, Madeleine (Adele Haenel), who dreams of joining the Army and learning survivalist techniques. She's really hardcore, as demonstrated in a memorable scene involving a raw fish and a blender.

Madeleine meets Arnaud (Kevin Azais) at an Army recruiting site, where she quickly whips his butt in a self-defense demonstration. Arnaud isn't sure what he wants to do with his life. His father recently passed away; his mother and brother are struggling to keep the family construction business afloat. He wants to do his part to help the family business, and takes on a construction job at Madeleine's family home. He tries hard, but construction just isn't his thing. He's a bit smitten by Madeleine, though, and decides to follow her to summer military camp.

Camp life is much easier than Madeleine expected, which disappoints her and plays with her emotions. She believes herself to be prepared, and feels a little superior to the others, including Arnaud. But she doesn't meet her own expectations. When Arnaud is selected to be the leader of an orienteering expedition, Madeleine's disappointment turns ugly. They get separated from the rest of the group. And there just happens to be a raging forest fire nearby. Madeleine and Arnaud must survive this experience and also deal with their feelings towards themselves and each other.

Love at First Fight / Les Combattants is a sweet "coming of age" type of story, with realistic modern characters and situations, and several laugh-out-loud scenes. I liked it -- a lot. Of course, like mostly every other French movie I've seen, it ends way too abruptly. Situation resolved. Boom. Roll credits.


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