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1 item from 2001

They Call It Spring (On Appelle ca le Printemps)

23 April 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Herve Le Roux's "They Call It Spring" (On Appelle ca le Printemps) attempts to be an update of a French Enlightenment comedy, reworking the theme of love's inevitability for a modern Parisian setting. For a while, it floats along with a fresh, quirky cheerfulness as it follows three middle-aged women who have shed the men in their lives. But Le Roux, a former Cahiers du Cinema critic, loses his way in the last half-hour, taking extended detours into territories hostile to his initial, gently comic vision.

The movie, which had its U.S. debut at the San Francisco International Film Festival, has no domestic distributor as yet. Its novel take on the midlife crises of women could have boxoffice potential on the art house circuit. But Le Roux and screenwriter Renee Falson's eccentric bypathsultimately render the film directionless.

The film begins with three male singers costumed in frilly, 18th century court dress. Their waggish lyrics feature lines like "Be prepared to swoon/All noise leads to tune." The song ends with the performers barking, meowing and braying to the music. The men, it turns out, are contemporary Parisians, rehearsing a stage revue. (Their rehearsals crop up throughout the film, and the end credits roll over yet another song.)

Joss (Marie Matheron), wife to one of the vocalists (Pierre Berriau), is abandoning him for her female lover. On the way, she receives a call from her friend Fanfan (Maryse Cupaiolo), whose boyfriend (Antoine Choppey) is busy tossing her belongings out the window. After Fanfan rescues her property -- which includes a large catfish -- she and Joss flee to Joss' lover, only to discover her with another woman.

Fanfan's sister Manu (Marilyne Canto) provides refuge, but she's juggling two men on her own: her live-in lover Mytch (Michel Bompoil) and the comfortable, undemanding Jean (Laszlo Szabo). Mytch discovers the affair, and soon everyone's out on the street.

It's often fun to see the film break from convention and watch grown women behave like irresponsible adolescents rather than remaining the voices of mature sobriety while their men screw up. The women plot revenge and seek new, more satisfying entanglements, but they're also surprisingly content in their new lives of limbo.

As this comic minuet progresses, though, Le Roux and Falson seem to run out of ideas, adding several sequences of protracted filler. There's a lovely montage in which the three women spirit Joss' daughter away for a day, and the women dance and skip like enchantresses with their freshly snatched changeling. But the scene is out of step with the rest of the movie, seemingly from another film.

Le Roux also adds an irritatingly endless sequence of slapstick when the women have to hide from the wife of a man who's sheltering them. And a long costume ball finale lacks humor and surprise, not accomplishing much for the amount of time it takes.


Agat Films et Cie


Producer: Gilles Sandoz

Director: Herve Le Roux

Screenwriter: Renee Falson

Director of photography: Pierre Milon

Production designer: Patrick Durand

Music supervisor: Pierre Allio

Costume designer: Corinne le Flem

Editor: Nadine Tarbouriech. Cast: Paul: Pierre Berriau

Joss: Marie Matheron

Lise: Margaux Hocquard

Fanfan: Maryse Cupaiolo

Charles: Antoine Chappey

Manu: Marilyne Canto

Jean: Laszlo Szabo

Mytch: Michel Bompoil

Claude: Bernard Ballet

No MPAA rating


Running time -- 103 minutes


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