Odette dreams of thanking Balthazar Balsan, her favorite writer, for the optimism which she believes emanates from him. The wealthy and seductive writer is going to land in her life in a ...
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A young woman arrives in Paris where she finds a job as a waitress in bar next on Avenue Montaigne that caters to the surrounding theaters and the wealthy inhabitants of the area. She will meet a pianist, a famous actress and a great art collector, and become acquainted with the "luxurious" world her grandmother has told her about since her childhood.
Cécile De France,
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With gun-toting rivals on his tail, a daring bank robber takes refuge in the quiet residential street here he grew up and where his mother, Maniette, still lives. An unscrupulous property ... See full summary »
Odette dreams of thanking Balthazar Balsan, her favorite writer, for the optimism which she believes emanates from him. The wealthy and seductive writer is going to land in her life in a totally unexpected way. The story of a meeting between two unusual castaways who have nothing in common... Written by
Catherine Frot is a sweet-faced, sprightly French actress who looks a decade younger than her 52 years. She's also sexy in her inimitable way, and she's always watchable and versatile (she often plays confused, if not ditzy, characters, but she can turn on the drama too; see The Page Turner).
Frot has a tendency to carry any film she's in. She's one of those few actors who just lights up the screen. Alas, when the camera's not on her, borderline 'good' films like this one suddenly lose a great deal of appeal. In short, if Frot weren't in this film, I'm not sure how redeemable it would be.
Frot plays Odette Toulemonde (loose translation: 'Odette Everyone/Everywhere'), a cheerful, unworldly, dreamy sales clerk who loves the sappy books of author Balthazar Balsan (Albert Dupontel, who in real life is 10 years younger than Frot). Odette writes Balthazar a letter that, in her simple way, is profound, and inspires the writer, a sophisticated, womanizing Parisian who quotes Proust, to uproot himself and suddenly appear at Odette's house in a small Belgian town. This internationally famous writer begs to stay with her. This is all highly implausible of course, but 'Odette' is a fantasy film more than anything else, so plausibility is a non-issue.
This has been called 'a feel-good' film. That might be true, but it also strains credulity to make us feel 'good'. Noticeably, after a promising first half, it begins to bog down in the second, showing its deficiencies by becoming frequently boring and clichéd (e.g. the all-too-familiar sullen, alienated daughter and the upbeat gay son). The film doesn't quite know where its focus is supposed to be. But if you're an incurable romantic, you might well overlook its flaws and love it. For me, it was worth watching just to see Catherine Frot scale the heights and conquer once more.
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