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Somebody reviewed this film earlier and called it 'totally awesome'. Somehow, that was appropriate. This is EXACTLY the kind of film that appeals to people who use the word 'awesome' to describe everything from car crashes to runaway squirrels.
I'm past middle age, and should be ashamed of myself for even watching this 'confection,' which reminded me of a VERY long PG version of the TV show Friends, and, like, we all know that show is, like, so totally awesome, ah, like.
I've seen variations on this 'plot' (??) roughly six thousand times over the past ten years -- talented guys (they're ALWAYS talented guys: usually writers; no menial slapheads in dead-end jobs need apply) who just can't decide if they love X,Y, or Z, and X,Y, or Z can't decide if they love A,B, or C. Meanwhile, lesbians or gay men keep popping in and out along the way, accompanied by estranged parents who magically seem to end up back together after years of hating each other. In short, this film is driven by formula (and profit); it is designed to attract the optimum number of audiences, irrespective of age, gender or sexual orientation.
Giveth unto me a break.
Russian Dolls is laughable because of the hysteria over the subject matter: that is, the whole meaning of human existence amounts to whether or not you're going to find Mr. or Ms. Right. Forget Socratic enquiry or the guru on the mountain: life is a titanic struggle between testosterone and estrogen. Bernard Shaw's famous line ('youth is a wonderful thing; too bad it's wasted on the young') is on full display in this movie.
The massive computer dating racket (sorry, industry?) is clogged with miserable people who thought they found 'love' in their 20s. Inevitably, they married and shortly thereafter found this 'love' was actually just a bad case of overheated loins. Unbridled lust is not a reliable indicator of the hopelessly complex nature of 'love,' but when you watch movies like Russian Dolls, you'd think it was.
This is ostensibly a French movie, but it very much resembles what is pumped out of the Hollywood factory about once a week on average (or is it just my imagination?). What Russian Dolls DOES offer that's out of the ordinary is some terrific post-card scenery (London, Barcelona, St. Petersburg, Paris).
Anchoring this pleasant fluff (it really IS pleasant; stupid, but pleasant) is Romain Duris, who perfectly fits the central casting requirement of the hapless hero who just can't seem to get it together. Think of a Gallic version of Friends' David Schwimmer. The problem with Duris (and many other current actors like him) is that he's playing a 'type' that has been played countless times before. Couldn't an actor just sleep-walk through this part? Duris is a likable (maybe even lovable) clod, but I'm not sure about his acting skills. I just saw him in the 2007 French film Moliere, and somebody should file a lawsuit for criminal miscasting.
The dialogue in Russian Dolls is pretty pedestrian (actually, unintentionally hilarious), but overall the thing that really irritated me was the length. It just wouldn't stop. At 2 hours, 5 minutes on my clock, I was near the breaking point before it mercifully wrapped up and went home. It really shouldn't take more than, say, 80 minutes to tell this story, which has been told many, many, many times before. In essence, it's really just a dressed-up, extended (and expensive) version of a sitcom episode.
Other than all of the above, Russian Dolls is, like, you know, like, totally awesome. Ah, dude.
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