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"Selon Charlie" is not a great movie. But it's still enjoyable. That's
because the cast is doing a good job. Jean-Pierre Bacri is excellent. I
also liked the two Benoîts: Magimel and Plvoorde. But the plot is too
complicated and the director doesn't spend enough time working on
character development. The movie stays on the surface. A lot more could
have been done at the editing stage to skim the movie of the extra fat
that makes it only an average flick.
Seen in Toronto, at the Royal, on March 31st, 2007. The film was shown during Cinéfranco.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Those who love to detract female directors will probably opine that it is just as well that Nicole Garcia is still acting (her latest movie is in the Cutting Room even as I write) and though I confess, as a fan of Garcia the realisateuse, to being a tad disappointed with this entry I can't go along with that lobby who think she should turn in her bullhorn; she's given us some fine movies in the past and clearly has more fine ones in her. Jean-Pierre Bacri is always going to be an asset to anybody's movie and not just those of his long-time partner Agnes Jaoui, which he also co-writes and here he delivers his best-known persona the miserable grouch which now fits him like a glove. I've never been much of a Benoit Magimal booster in fact the best I can normally give him is that he's the least objectionable of three current French heart throbs the other two being Vincent Cassell and Romain Duris but here he turns in a half decent and sympathetic performance whilst the usually reliable Vincent Lindon seems to be having an off day. Part of the problem is that the film has nothing new to say but insists on saying it anyway; the plot is our old friend the intersecting lives in a small town where no one is having much fun least of all the audience. On the other hand Garcia really is incapable of making a completely bad film and there are just enough touches to make it tolerable if not memorable.
The choral film genre is pretty difficult to make. The script needs to
be very sharp to justify such a choice. Here, it only is an excuse to
see different actors playing different characters, with one main theme
in common: loneliness.
First problem: all the actor are not so good: Vincent Lindon is, in my opinion, really bad like usual; Bacri is, as usual, really great; Pooelveorde is funny, but that's all, and the other's are OK.
Second problem: the systematization of the film making. Garcia shoot in 2.35, a choice I cannot understand for that kind of movie. She alternates "low-fi" movement and stabilized, clean pan, but empty.
Third problem: a terrible use of the music. They are totally inappropriate, and their use are useless.
A few days pass in the lives of very different characters in a small town on the scenic Atlantic coast. The town mayor, a teacher, a scientist, a crook, physiotherapist and their families all see their miserable lives cross paths with the others in almost two hours of tedious film. An unhappy portrait of a town which should know better, as the characters themselves refuse to take hold of their lives to make something of them. The scientist tries to convince the teacher to join his team, but the essential problem is shared by all - an incapacity to face their own lives, to care for those around them and themselves. A dull, badly worked out film which should have remained in the editing room considerably longer than it did. Do not let the enigmatic title seduce you into the darkness, there is not much to see.
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