Félix et Lola (2001) Poster

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Leconte hits a rare sour note in this aimless film.
thecineman19 September 2003
An American interviewing Patrice Leconte remarked that, since he had never seen a film by the French director that wasn't good, perhaps Leconte was incapable of making a bad film. To which Leconte quipped back that obviously this man had not seen all of his films. After witnessing "Felix and Lola" at a Leconte retrospective, I see what he meant. It's a real clunker, the first of Leconte's films I haven't liked. Once again exploring an offbeat relationship of an eccentric couple (as in "Monsieur Hire," "The Hairdresser's Husband," and "The Girl on the Bridge"), Leconte sets this story in a traveling carnival, where Felix (Phillippe Torreton), the man who runs the bumper car concession, falls for Lola (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a mysterious woman who obviously has sought him out. We learn little about her except that she looks scrawny and sad, smokes and lies a lot, and is stalked by an old lover. Felix is a decent chap but in fact is a lonely sad sack himself, pushing forty with few prospects. Since neither Felix nor Lola has more than a thimble full of brio, it is unsurprising that their encounters don't produce sparks or any real joy. The story goes round and round, like one of the carnival rides, but gets nowhere. Our glimpses of the hovering ex-lover are confused by the presence of yet another, somewhat older man who bears a facial resemblance to the other. Lola can be seen as a `borderline personality,' someone characteristically depressed and dependent who feels so insubstantial that she makes up stories about herself to enhance her sense of personal identity. Lola may not even be her name. The tests of love that she arranges for Felix would make any fellow with half a brain drop her like a hot potato. The precipitous ending does not ring true. The best things about this film are its amusement park visuals and the caring family of carneys who watch Felix's new love unfold, cheering him on even as they fret about whether things can work out for him with this odd and unpredictable woman. Neither romance nor any other sort of dramatic tension is conjured in this film; small wonder it never found a U.S. distributor.
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4/10
the girl in the bumper car
dbdumonteil24 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
With "Félix et Lola", Patrice Leconte stepped back again into the breach he opened in 1999 with "la Fille Sur Le Pont" and pursued with "la Veuve De Saint-Pierre" (2000). A love story was the chief unifying thread of these works and "Félix et Lola" jumps on this bandwagon.

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.
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7/10
Good stuff!
Forbes50018 April 2005
"Felix and Lola" may not be quite as good as "Tandem," but I enjoyed it more than some of Leconte's other movies, "French-Fried Vacation," Le Parfum d'Yvonne," or "La Rue des plaisirs," I think it was called. It's clearly a movie along the lines of "The Girl on the Bridge."

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!
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7/10
So Long At The Fair
writers_reign12 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
At the beginning of the new millennium Patrice Leconte made two disappointing films in a row, this one and Rue des plaisirs, though being the work of Leconte this is not the same thing as saying they were disasters. He manages to imbue Felix et Lola with an indefinable air of wistful melancholia which is a perfect counterpoint to the faux gaiety of the principal fairground setting. The main thrust is the slightly off-centre relationship between Felix (Philippe Torreton) a fortyish carney man and Lola (Charlotte Gainsbourg) an enigmatic waif who carries an air of sadness around with her like a snail carries its shell. They play out their burgeoning love story against the ironically more 'normal' relationships of the carney personnel, warm and loving to a man. Leconte has made - and continues to make - so many fine movies in several genres that we shouldn't hold one - or even two - commercial and critical flops against him.
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