‘Coup de Chance’ Is Woody Allen’s Best Film in Years

'Coup de Chance' restores the masterful filmmaker to his deserved position as one of the screen’s most profound storytellers. 

Niels Schneider and Lou de Laâge star in Woody Allen’s ‘Coup de Chance,’ a film that will keep you riveted with suspense and surprise. © 2022 Gravier Productions, Photography by Thierry Valletoux

Unfairly derailed by obvious, headline-demanding personal problems, Woody Allen’s phenomenal career returns to where it should never have paused in the first place with this languidly paced but endlessly mesmerizing combination of domestic-crisis love story and suspense-layered murder mystery—his first (and best) film in years. Set in the upper-class echelons of Paris and written, acted and filmed entirely in French, the title Coup de Chance translates as “stroke of luck,” and that’s exactly what it is, restoring the masterful filmmaker to his deserved position as one of the screen’s most profound storytellers. 

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COUP DE CHANCE ★★(3.5/4 stars)
Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Lou de Laâge, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Schneider
Running time: 96 mins.


The film centers on what outwardly appears to be the perfect marriage of Fanny and Jean Fournier, a rich, attractive couple who don’t seem to have a care in the world. The envy of even their most familiar friends, the Fourniers are like glamorous role models in glossy articles in French Vogue: trendy clothes, a fashionable lifestyle, regular patrons in the most expensive restaurants, a lavish apartment, and a gorgeous ivy-covered weekend house in the country. Fanny (charming, appealing Lou de Laâge), having survived a miserable first marriage to a lazy, abusive musician, has hit pay dirt with Jean (dashing Melvil Poupaud). She stays busy working for an exclusive art gallery. He doesn’t do anything but make money as an entrepreneur and a business advisor to rich friends. Two lives well lived, but as in all Woody Allen movies, perfection isn’t everything. The wrinkle in the seamless canvas is boredom. Fanny considers their life missing the proverbial lost chord. She’s tired of weekends with superficial guests who talk about money, travel and the world’s best hotels and wines, has no interest in Jean’s passion for deer hunting, and longs for a change.

Opportunity knocks when Fanny accidentally runs into Alain (Niels Schneider), an old schoolmate and once-potential boyfriend she hasn’t seen in years, now a published (and intriguingly divorced) writer working on a new novel, and wonders: if she had married him, would it have led to a different, more exciting life? Against her better judgment, curiosity and a dormant sexuality invade her subconscious. The former school acquaintances begin to meet for casual lunches in the park. Suddenly Jean can’t reach her at work. Cooking spaghetti at his apartment, buying a lottery ticket, change is gradual. Alain makes the mistake of calling when he thinks she’s home alone, and Jean makes the mistake of answering the phone. A coincidence turns into an infatuation and the result is a passionate, full-blown affair. Humiliated and furious, Jean hires a detective, and 48 minutes into the film, irony turns lethal and romance turns to murder. But this is, above all, a Woody Allen movie, so even tragedy blends with humor. I’ll refrain from any spoilers, so you’ll have to ponder who does what to whom—and how. But in another left turn, a new character moves to center stage when Fanny’s mother, suspicious and a devout reader of crime novels, embraces paranoia and continues the narrative in ways that will leave your mouth wide open with shock. Nothing happens the way you think it will, and Coup de Chance will keep you riveted with suspense and surprise.

Lou de Laâge is endlessly fascinating in a quirky but realistic way, full of unique revelations and traces of Diane Keaton. © 2022 Gravier Productions, Photography by Thierry Valletoux

I wouldn’t describe Woody Allen as a reluctant director, but in this film, his laid-back style has the feel of a jazz improvisation, which is reflected to the hilt in the changing tempos of the screenplay, and in everything from the beauty of the elegant cinematography by the accomplished Vittorio Storaro to the intimacy of the background ballad music by great jazz musicians such as Nat Adderley, Milt Jackson and the Modern Jazz Quartet. 

Superb performances by a sterling cast are an enormous help, too. Especially Lou de Laâge, whose Fanny is endlessly fascinating in a quirky but realistic way, full of unique revelations and traces of Diane Keaton. Her mid-tempo acting style—expressive, with great feeling—easily held my attention from beginning to end. In Woody Allen, she seems to have found the right director to bring out the unexpected strength in the face of adversity needed to meld the power of humor and logic. Coup de Chance is about fate—and the consequences of luck. Woody’s “take” is there is no such thing as fate; we make our own luck. And she, in turn, brings out the intention of her director in spades. Like his films, which are incisive, brightly lit social observations about the human condition, hers is a mirror that masks the darkness of the human heart with the wit, intelligence and survival of the human spirit.

‘Coup de Chance’ Is Woody Allen’s Best Film in Years