A young filmmaker in 1960s Paris juggles directing a cheesy sci-fi debacle, directing his own personal art film, coping with his crumbling relationship with his girlfriend, and a new-found infatuation with the sci-fi film's starlet.
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The life of a woman is transformed after she is diagnosed with a terminal disease, fired from her job and abandoned by her boyfriend. Given two months to live, she throws caution to the wind to pursue her dreams.
Isaach De Bankolé,
Paz de la Huerta
Paris, 1969. The filming of a sci-fi movie set in the distant year 2000 is in trouble. The director's obsession with the actress who plays the sexy secret agent Dragonfly has clouded his judgment and the film has no ending. A young American, in Paris to document his life on film with total honesty, is brought in to finish the movie with a bang. This proves to be difficult when the line between his fantasy life and reality becomes blurred, and he finds himself seduced by the charms of Dragonfly. Written by
Despite the pedigree of being made by the latest Coppola clan member to enter the feature film directorial ranks, CQ came and went from theaters when it was released a few years go. Seeing it for the first time on Reel 13 on Saturday, I'm a little stunned as to why. Roman Coppola proves to be a promising, thoughtful filmmaker and as adept a student of cinema history as his Uncle Francis. CQ is an engaging, if loosely structured movie, managing to be simultaneously inventive and derivative, borrowing from and paying homage to everything from La Dolce Vita to the Marx Brothers.
Its primary source of influence is, of course, 1968's Barbarella, here thinly veiled as the fictional "Dragonfly", as the film within the film. CQ is about how Paul, a young editor (Jeremy Davies), working on said "Dragonfly" deals with balancing his career and his relationship as he works on both the big-budget sci-fi epic and directing his own personal documentary film. This set-up provides Coppola with three different planes of action going on real life, the black and white documentary and the colorful, sexy, futuristic world of "Dragonfly". The fun really begins when Coppola deftly uses these formats to blur the lines of fantasy and reality when Paul, in his search for himself, begins to lose sight of where the boundaries for each of these worlds lie or if they even exist.
In addition to Coppola's stellar usage of mixed media, the other key to CQ's success is Jeremy Davies, an extremely talented and severely underused young actor who quite possibly should have won an Oscar for his work in Saving Private Ryan and at least should have been nominated for last year's Rescue Dawn. I think there are less roles for him because he seems to insist on making quirky, out-of-the-box choices. However, when a director with vision is willing to roll the dice on him, he almost always delivers an inspired performance. CQ is no exception as Davies brings a believable, uncomfortable edge to Paul. He is a character who is lost and confused, but most actors would play him with a modicum of swagger. Davies makes him neurotic without being nebbish as if still a boy in the body a man who isn't quite sure that he wants to grow up. At the heart of Davies' performance, however, still is that extra element of quirkiness that is all his own. It's that extra layer of thought he puts in to his performance and those unusual choices he makes that allows the character to feel fresh different than what we're used to while at the same time, wholly plausible.
After all is said and done, with all its layers of meaning and different milieus represented within it, CQ ultimately becomes a dissertation on film and the nature of filmmaking as an artform. It depicts the tendency of the artist to lose himself in his work and how said artist can learn to manipulate the art to find his way again (it's no wonder I liked it so much). In that sense, it's a beautifully realized film and another highly auspicious debut from an almost unfairly talented family.
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