Félix et Lola (2001)
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Unfortunately, it bears witness of the thematic redundancy which started to turns to the filmmaker's disadvantage at that time of his career. The problem is that it recalls too much "la Fille Sur Le Pont". It's a sort of colorized version of the 1999 movie. Taking place mainly in a colorful place, a fair (some parts of "la Fille Sur Le Pont also took place in fairs) with colorful characters (Félix's work colleagues) and to the rhythm of an entrancing music, it tries to capture this feeling of timelessness and simplicity again. But the film is hampered by a hesitating pace and narration. It seems that Patrice Leconte and his scenarist Claude Klotz experienced a block while writing it. They must have borrowed here and there to flesh out their work and stretch it until one hour and a half. Thus, there are superfluous sequences and subplots which barely bring something to the story and its key ideas like this melancholic man who lost his wife. But more annoying are the sequences dealing with Alain Bashung. What's his role? Perhaps Patrice Leconte felt compelled to explain his function in the film so as not to leave the viewer in ignorance. That's why we learn his role in Lola's story at the tail end of the film. But he had only a minor importance in Lola's life. Besides, I do think that this scene comes at the most awkward moment. It would have been more acceptable to scatter these elements and episodes of Lola's life throughout the film and not all at once in one final sequence.
The Leconte fans will have surely noticed that "Félix et Lola" has "Lecontian" accents in the delineation of the characters and notably Lola: a sad young girl walled up in solitude who keeps all her ambiguity even during the denouement at the end. Charlotte Gainsbourg has no problems to make her mysterious character credible. Ditto for her partner Philippe Torreton who behind his self-assured appearance conceals zones of fragility. They are worthy heirs of Vanessa Paradis and Daniel Auteuil from "la Fille Sur Le Pont". But beyond an intelligent use of the cinematography, a topnotch lighting, scenery able to provide a good dose of escape and Leconte's directorial style, this uninteresting love story doesn't hold up due to a lack of inspiration and direction.
"Félix et Lola" isn't a solid fixture in Leconte's filmography.
Torreton and Gainsbourg were convincing in their leading roles, I thought, and there was the usual Leconte wit in evidence throughout the movie: witness Felix's story about the way he avoided addressing his aunt with you or your so as not to have to decide between "tu" or "vous."
There was joy, too, which is sort of strange, because hardly any of the characters ever laughs or even cracks much more than a sad-looking smile. But on several occasions I found myself smiling and laughing for them. Bravo, Patrice Leconte!