DVD Review: ‘Park Benches’ Features Dazzling French Ensemble

Chicago – Episodic ensemble pieces in America often follow a contrived pattern typified by Paul Haggis’s “Crash.” Various diverse lives are juxtaposed and intersect while illustrating an overarching theme. What’s so refreshing about Bruno Podalydès’s 2009 French gem, “Park Benches,” is its utter lack of dramatic significance. It’s more interested in exploring the idiosyncrasies of humanity rather than preaching a self-important message.

Podalydès is a writer/director not known to most American moviegoers, but this thoroughly delightful comedy is bound to win the filmmaker many new fans. The vast majority of his screwball humor does not get lost in cultural translation, and produces countless moments that are laugh-out-loud funny. As a microcosm of Parisian society, “Benches” hops whimsically from one colorful scenario to the next, capturing vignettes as endearing as they are bittersweet.

DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0

What’s apparent right off the bat is the picture’s mammoth gallery of French stars.
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