"Charles et Lucie" couldn't have come from any country but France. It's a tale of two lovable lunatics -- the kind of people who seem to thrive in French comedies of the most impish sort. It's a romp, a love story, and a "road movie" all at once. It's also a celebration of traditional values, and a statement that they don't have to be stodgy and musty, even if they are old-fangled.
The yarn begins when out heroes -- an aging married couple -- are defrauded of all their earthly possessions. No money, no house, no automobile, and even the police are after them! Naturally, by the end of the film, all the mistakes and scrambled identities are straightened out. But not before the wellmeaning Charles and Lucie have taken an antic grand tour of France, from slum to seaport , in every vehicle from a hijacked bus to a fortune-teller's van. Along the way Lucie literally sings for their supper, while Charles engages in unlikely escapades and manages to disarm a "mad killer" who has eluded all the authorities.
"Charles et Lucie" has mordant moments as well as manic ones. It gets downright maudlin on one or two occasions, but always bounces back in a hurry. It's not a major film, though it comes from Nelly Kaplan, who is a noteworthy director. Yet in its won way, it says a lot about the resilience of the so-called middled-aged, and about the durability of a marriage that holds its participants in a rock- solid partnership no matter what assails them.
The fact of their maturity and their comewhat-may loyalty to each other are what set Charles and Lucie apart from the forgettable characters of most picaresque romps.