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Fontaine's new film seems on the surface simply a brightly colored
Riviera toy, a romantic comedy with some Chabrol-eque twists at the
end. There's a bit more; the salt-and-pepper casting of Fabrice
Lucchini and Roschdy Zem is at least meant to be sly, the use of
newcomer Louise Bourgoin an amusing experiment. Since this is Anne
Fontaine, the comedy-drama is also a study of unexpected sexual
attractions. It's a somewhat bizarre threesome: a famous lawyer,
Bertrand (the soft, mercurial, witty Lucchini); his assigned and
initially unwanted security guard, Christophe (the chiseled,
tight-lipped Zim); and an air-headed but voluptuous TV weather bunny,
Audrey (Bourgoin, a méteo presenter and TV personality in real life).
But if the approach and the thinking are individual, the result is
still pretty bland and generic.
Bertrand is a crack trial lawyer--and that's an excellent role for the ultra-articulate Lucchini. He's engaged in a high-profile trial in Monaco in which he is defending a posh lady, Édith Lassalle (a rather wasted Stephane Audran) who murdered, by stabbing, her younger Russian boyfriend, a gigolo characterized in court as having been spectacularly well hung. The family's rich, the case is high profile, and the boyfriend was a a sleazy, possibly mafioso Russian, so Édith's son Louis (Gilles Cohen) has engaged a full-time bodyguard for Bertrand.
He, Christophe, maintains his distance, but the cliché happens: Bertrand notices him and, not to be bothered by his hovering, invites him to dinner. There not being any real physical danger anyway, Chirstophe soon becomes simply Bertrand's girl wrangler, disposing of an annoying ex-girlfriend of the lawyer (Jeanne Balibar) by bedding her, then keeping Audrey at bay when she begins seducing the lawyer in the middle of the trial. The surprise (but isn't it another comedy cliché?) is, Christophe and Audrey have a history. Why not? She's screwed everyone on 'The Rock.' He pretends to be the strong silent type, but the new Bertrand-Audrey story complicates the buddy-picture aspect of things by making Christophe both more personally protective of Bertrand and dangerously jealous of him, when this strong silent type turns out not to have gotten that girl out of his system. Christophe reacts with repressed rage toward Audrey, and the film turns strangely serious. But not serious enough to make an impression. And the comedy wasn't funny enough to be memorable either. The screenplay might have worked better if Fontaine had chosen one direction or the other and flown with it.
Sure, this is a good cast and the colorful, free Monagasque atmosphere is made integral to the action. But truth to tell Bourgoin is just a tasty bauble who's not drop-dead gorgeous or soulful enough to have a great future ahead of her. Whatever they may have thought, Bardot she's not. Fontaine's strict directing of Lucchini (who is far wittier and funnier on TV and probably in his stage performances) and Zem (whose role remains relatively servile here), holding both back from "doing" much, or being fully themselves, fails to make the most of either. Lucchini is always fun to watch (and to hear talk) but he's more fun to watch when he's just being himself. It's obvious that a Chabrol treatment of this theme would be better and his recent 'Girl Cut in Two' has more depth--without having much depth.
Ultimately, and, alas, well before the last scene, this is a movie that disappoints. Will Sloan wasn't far from the mark when he commented that this illustrates Matt Groening's notion of "cinema's greatest paradox," that "the French are funny, sex is funny, and comedies are funny, yet no French sex comedies are funny." It's true of this one at least. A perusal of 'How I Killed My Father' and the less often mentioned but intriguing 'Dry Cleaning' will show how far this piece of frippery is from Anne Fontaine's best work.
'La fille de Monaco' debuted in Paris August 20, 2008, to satisfactory reviews. Shown as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, March 2009. It has been bought for distribution by Magnolia Pictures for an early July US release. with US release planned for early July. 2009
This film screened at the 2009 Palm Springs Film Fest to a large, mostly receptive audience. The plot involves a Parisian attorney who travels to Monaco to defend a woman accused of murder. On arriving he finds that he's been assigned a bodyguard who becomes a major part of the story. He also rather quickly finds himself becoming involved with locals, among them an aggressive young female who does the weather on a local TV channel but has much higher aspirations. Without giving away too much of the story, this film seems to go deeper than it appears on the surface. It seemed to me to be an allegory to the state of affairs in France and many other places in the world. The loss of common decency and higher standards is a threat to our existence. The lawyer is a straight arrow old school fellow, with high ethics, who becomes seduced by a woman with all the trappings of modern society. She and her friends have little regard for what's right or wrong and just live for the moment, with little thought about the consequences. The movie is enjoyable to watch, even if you're not interested in subplots or extra meaning, but this one is full of room for discussion after you leave the theater.
La Fille de Monaco starts out as a comedy and ends up in a disturbing
but well done drama. I don't consider this a fault; Romeo and Juliet is
also of this structure. If you come in expecting this to be a light
comedy, you will enjoy the first hour and then be woefully
disappointed, but if you expect to be drawn in by laughter and brought
into a darker movie, you will find beauty in the craftsmanship of this
The main parts of Bertrand (Fabrie Luchini), security guard Christophe (Roschdy Zem) hippie/loose Audrey (Louise Bourgoin) were well chosen and well acted.
The movie is one of the best I've seen for a dramatization of the "overly sexual woman develops complete power over a respected man" dynamic. It was believable, and because of that, disturbing. In other words, a good film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For those with multiple personalities, The Girl from Monaco (La Fille
de Monaco, directed by Anne Fontaine), could possibly do more good than
Is it a light romantic comedy of a middle-aged lawyer's ego and the uninhibited sexual spirit of a ditzy television weather girl, combined with a trial for murder and hints of the Russian mafia? Is it a male melodrama of irony and rue where a middle-aged lawyer's gonads lead him into humiliating situations that are at once humorous and embarrassing, and where an erotic and selfish female weather reader is manipulating his hormones? Is it a sad set of experiences where lust and manipulation lead to unexpected but justifiable justice, only leavened by the sense that certain actions were well-served and that the protagonists understand, finally, their behavior?
In other words, The Girl from Monaco is a movie with, at times, great charm and amusement, but which falls on its face because the director cannot make up her mind what she wants her movie to be about. With each shift into the next line of the story, we can't help but finally realize that the line we just left is something we'd rather stay with. Fontaine isn't deliberately leading us on, in my opinion, but she seems to keep changing her idea of the house she's building after construction has started.
Bertrand Beauvois (Fabrice Luchini) has traveled from Paris to Monaco to defend a woman charged with murdering a man she may or may not have been having an affair with. Beauvois is a top lawyer who wins his cases but seems to have less luck with women. He's a whiz with words, though. Because the murdered man was a Russian with Russian mafia connections, Beauvois is assigned protection, Christophe Abadi (Roschdy Zem). He's a tall, lean, taciturn man who insists on doing his job. When Beauvois, a pale, unimpressive-looking man with a modest sense of humor along with a sense of his own importance, meets Audrey Varelia (Louise Bourgoin), the ditzy, uninhibited weather reader, we can see speculation move to lust with all the single-minded drive of a teen-ager looking at a Playboy centerfold. What we also see is Christophe's disapproval...and we see Audrey's uninhibited, free-spirited ways with her body that completely capture this little lawyer. Trust me, this all is played for amusement centering on the fragile egos of middle-aged men who actually believe gorgeous young women may fall for them. When we see what a collection of partying freeloaders Audrey runs with, the movie starts making us uneasy. When we see how casually manipulative Audrey can be, using her erotic charms to capture poor Bertrand by his hormones, it's hard not to smile...and be uneasy. All the while the silent and serious Christophe tries to keep Bertrand ready for the trial each day. As Christophe does his job, it turns out he might have a bit of history with Audrey. She seems to have known, in exactly the Biblical sense, just about every man she's ever met.
What can I say? Bertrand gets his. Christophe gets his. Audrey gets hers. I'm not talking death. Necessarily. And I'm not talking about grim irony. It's just that a movie, even one with all the finely nuanced amusement of the first third of this one, that ends with the audience likely giving a shrug hasn't, in my opinion, been able to hold itself together.
Fabrice Luchini is excellent. Roschdy Zem is impressive. And blond, built Louise Bourgoin, in her first movie, managed to keep me lusting after her even when the last thing I knew I'd want would be to find myself in Bertrand Beauvois's shoes. The movie isn't a mess by any means. It just doesn't know what it wants to be.
Director Anne Fontaine ambitiously tries to mix traditional rom-com
elements with drama. If she had succeeded, La fille de Monaco could
have been a standout movie in 2008. Unfortunately, the end result feels
awkward and we are left unable to connect with the movie or the
Fabrice Luchini plays Bertrand Beauvois, an elite lawyer coming to Monaco to work a high- profile case. He is assigned a bodyguard, Christophe (Roschdy Zem) and while in Monaco, develops a relationship with a quirky weather girl (Louise Bourgoin) who was formerly romantically involved with the man assigned to protect him.
Audrey, our weather forecast girl is considerably younger than Beauvois and her behaviour will remind many viewers of traditional movies where a (usually stuck up) guy sees his life turned a little upside down by a wild woman. It helps that Louise Bourgoin is absolutely stunning. The classic European look you would expect in a Bond Girl. Unfortunately, her acting is not as great as her looks, which makes this Love Triangle of a sort rather inefficient.
Luchini and Zem have slightly more chemistry and the bound they form as protector and protected is potentially interesting but never fully realized. The contrasts between the two (social class, education, outlook on life) still provides for the only interesting bits in the film.
Unfortunately, the film suddenly and unexpectedly slides into very dramatic territory. I do love when a movie elegantly does this but because of lack of character development, it is difficult to buy the turn of events experienced here.
I would be curious to see more of Fontaine's work because I love the general direction and tone this movie was going for, but it failed in the execution. Better casting and more work on the script could have led to a balanced movie that would have been haunting and powerful.
But in its actual state, it just ends up being a forgettable movie because it fails to engage us enough to care about the events unfolding.
My laugh meter was in constant activity throughout this film, one of
the most entertaining French comedies of recent years. Anne Fontaine's
witty script and assured direction gave me a lot of pleasure. The first
scene between Fabrice Luchini and Hélène de Saint-Père--that amorous
banter out of Marivaux--set the tone for me. Luchini is at the top of
his form now, much stronger than he was in La Discrète or Beaumarchais
l'insolent. He portrays the erotic confusion of the middle-aged man so
well. Roschdy Zem, so often used as ethnic content in his films, here
provides us with the (almost) definitive portrait of the loyal servant
with his own agenda (cf. Dirk Bogarde in The Servant). Louise Bourgoin
has a great natural comic flair that will serve her well in future
roles (she outshines that other comic weather girl Michelle Pfeiffer in
Up Close and Personal).
Anne Fontaine has given me so much satisfaction over the last ten years: I think of Nettoyage à sec, Comment J'ai tué mon père, Nathalie... She is a stalwart of the French film industry.
With a title like "The Girl from Monaco", a picture of a bodacious babe
on the cover, and a description about a neurotic lawyer defending a
gangster's mother charged with the murder of a gigolo, I figured this
would be a crazy comedy... something between "Legally Blonde" and "My
Cousin Vinny" but in French. Boy was I wrong.
Certain filmgoers react negatively when they don't get what they expect. Me, I don't care as long as it's good. And this movie is definitely good. It begins with enough light-hearted comedy to draw you in at the opening scene. Other good laughs are peppered throughout the first half. But you soon realize that it's all a clever candy-coating, masking a dark, winding story beneath. In that respect, I'd compare it to "Art School Confidential" (2006) or "Jeux d'enfants" (2003) or even "Good Morning Vietnam" (1987) which begin as comedies but soon trick us down a different path.
If you go into this film with zero expectations, or better yet, expecting to be led to an unknown destination, I can't imagine you not liking this film. The acting is top notch, creating believable characters who are instantly likable despite their personality quirks. Even the Girl, who is basically a slut of the highest magnitude, comes across as cute, charming and breezy. It's hard not to see elements of the legendary Brigitte Bardot in her unapologetic sexuality.
And that's what this movie is really about: expression vs repression, openness vs modesty, freedom vs self-control. And we see the crazy results of people attempting to bridge between the two worlds. This movie is every bit as compelling as the Bardot films that first explored these sexually-charged themes almost 50 years ago. We see that they're still topical today.
A quick note about content... Even though this is a very sexual story, it's not too explicit, and I think there's only 1 brief nude scene (the girl topless in bed). Most of the steamy stuff is implied through dialogue.
Watch this back-to-back with the Bardot classics "And God Created Woman", "Night Heaven Fell", "Love is My Profession", and so on. Maybe you'll agree it's been a while since a director has been able to capture that same spirit. This movie is so much more than a comedy. Soooo much more.
French film "The Girl from Monaco" begins on a promising note with renowned actor Fabrice Luchini flirting with an older woman. He is unaware of the fact that this innocuous action is being watched in detail by a bodyguard whose services have been provided to him without his knowledge. This is just the commencement of a series of zany adventures involving unusual people namely a fun loving lawyer, a dedicated bodyguard and a promiscuous yet charmingly nubile weather woman. Although the title mentions the word 'Monaco' there is not much description of Monaco and its casinos. The film runs at a normal pace but gains momentum within second half when innocence is replaced by cunning. It is at that point some surprising elements are introduced to make the film appear interesting. Director Anne Fontaine has made quirky films in the past but 'The Girl From Monaco' is completely different from all her films. It tries hard to be a serious film but remains a comedy in essence. It is a film which one can watch with friends in order to have some good moments of entertainment.
Bertrand (Fabrice Luchini) is a lawyer on a high-profile case in
Monaco, and then he meets Audrey - "The Girl from Monaco". It could be
interesting except there is nothing in these characters to connect us
The three main characters, Audrey, Bertrand and his bodyguard had really strange relationships with each other. Way too intimate of conversations for virtual strangers. So I felt further away from them and never could care for them.
I also never could figure out what genre this film is supposed to be. The plot outline reads like a thriller, but it says its supposed to be a comedy and it plays out more like a romantic drama. I can see the comedy elements, and it is light in its nature, but it's not laugh-out-loud funny. It's too strange to be romantic, and nothing interesting develops to make this a thriller. Perhaps it really is a comedy as it claims, just a not very funny one.
It has high production value, it's shot well, and "The Girl from Monaco" is definitely beautiful, but there's nothing in the story to recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
this is a lightweight comedy that is implausible on many fronts. The
lawyer is successful, but way too old for the girl, so it's not clear
why she is interested in him. The lawyer is taken in by her (she's
stunning), but he throws all caution to the wind and does many things
that are out of character, really stupid things. The movie is lightly
entertaining with the comedic elements, and with the amazing looks of
the girl, who flaunts her body and looks in every scene she's in.
SPOILER: Then the movie decides to get serious and it lost me completely. the two men in the film can't resist her, but they both think she's dangerous - "a witch". I won't tell you what happens, but you could easily see this film as a caution against female sexual freedom with the two men punishing her in the end. When it gets away from the comedy, it's a mess.
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