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1 item from 1999


Film review: 'Serial Lover'

10 May 1999 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Novice feature filmmaker James Huth has turned his affection for Hitchcock, vintage Peter Sellers and pulp crime novels into an absurdist romp.

Falling into a category that may best be described as farce noir, "Serial Lover" is an often wickedly hilarious take on postmodern romance and commitment.

A recent hit on the festival circuit, the highly visual French-language picture could earn itself an enthusiastic cult following in the hands of the right distributor, while establishing Huth as a fresh talent to watch.

Michele Laroque handles her lead duties with deadpan panache in the role of Claire Doste, a single woman who has grown tired of playing the field. Looking for permanence, she uses the occasion of her 35th birthday to throw a little dinner party with a little help from a platonic male friend (Gilles Privat).

The list of invited guests is limited to three of her most recent boyfriends -- (Michel Vuillermoz, Zinedine Soualem and Antoine Basler) -- one of whom will win a trip to city hall for a marriage license by the time the time the evening is up. That, at least, is the plan. But things begin to go horribly, horribly awry in the kitchen when a wayward cat, a high-speed blender and an airborne carving knife collide with rather tragic results.

Now down to two remaining suitors, a frazzled Claire attempts to continue with the festivities, but nasty fate will continue to provide its own system of elimination. As if things could get any worse, a hard-boiled police detective (Albert Dupontel) has been snooping around Claire's fabulous apartment in search of a pair of armed burglars, while her sister (Elise Tielrooy) springs a wild surprise party on her along with about 100 of her closest friends.

Huth manages to make slapstick fun again, incorporating a Rube Goldberg-type intricacy into his ever-outrageous chain reactions along with a hyper sense of style that recalls the 1982 Jean-Jacques Beineix film, "Diva".

And, just when it seems the outlandish events are about to spin irretrievably out of control, he manages to rein it all in again for a second act that is highlighted by a hysterical a cappella rendering of "Only You", reluctantly performed by the two bad guys hiding in a jukebox when that particular selection is chosen.

Dressing it all up in lively retro "lounge a-go-go" attire are production designer Pierre-Emmanuel Chatiliez, costume designer Olivier Beriot and composer Bruno Coulais, who have fun playing with the supposedly contemporary time period.

SERIAL LOVER

A Rezo Films de la Suane/Le Studio Canal Plus/France 2 Cinema/Captain Movies production

Director:James Huth

Screenwriters:James Huth, Romain Berthomieu and Hugo Jacomet

Producer:Philippe Rousselet

Director of photography:Jean-Claude Thibaut

Production designer:Pierre-Emmanuel Chatiliez

Editor:Scott Stevenson

Costume designer:Olivier Beriot

Music:Bruno Coulais

Color/stereo

Cast:

Claire Doste:Michele Laroque

Eric Cellier:Albert Dupontel

Alice Doste:Elise Tielrooy

Charles Thiriot:Michel Vuillermoz

Prince Hakim:Zinedine Soualem

Sacha Peters:Antoine Basler

Ruitchi Di Chichi:Gilles Privat

Running time -- 83 minutes

No MPAA rating

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1 item from 1999


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