The Vuillard family is no stranger to physical/mental illness, loss, and banishment. But when the matriarch becomes in need of a transplant, the whole family is forced to come together, emotional baggage and all, just in time for Christmas.
Three teenagers are confined to an isolated country estate that could very well be on another planet. The trio spend their days listening to endless homemade tapes that teach them a whole ... See full summary »
To many, Mathieu Amalric was the bad guy in Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster, 2008), but most familiar with his name will recall his outstanding portrayal of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel, 2007). Small parts in Munich (Steven Spielberg, 2005) and Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006) support the idea that Amalric's bound to have made it to some extent in Hollywood by now. This may be the source of the trashy and (at times) visceral swipes at the American culture, that fuel much of his first internationally distributed feature On Tour.
Joachim (Amalric) invites a group of burlesque dancers are over from the States to tour with him around his homeland, whereby they are promised an almighty, star-spangled crescendo in Paris. These women are all shapes and sizes: 'real women' we're often told to imagine in the media backlash against stick-thin-supermodels. The performances within certainly feel real. Amalric's camera seems to be a claustrophobic one, that never shys away from the lines and creases of these performers (perhaps an idea carried over from his Diving Bell... role). And yet he knows when to back off and let the audience take their place amongst the paying spectators in his fictional theatre. At best, the viewer is awestruck at the harmonisation of vulgarity of spectacle and beauty (epitomised in Julie Atlas Muz's 'moonhead' dance).
Fellini comparisons are understandable: the film is rife with references to La Strada (1954), La Dolce Vita (1960), and most notably 8 ½ (1963). We meander from one place to another, meeting past and future conquests, and picking up plot lines along the way. They're never just dropped though, and the intensity and style Amalric offers strikingly well in acting is carried through into his filmmaking. What at first seem like transparent, garish, has-been beauties, do in fact transform into characters worthy of understanding, to the extent that Mimi le Meaux (Miranda Colclasure) becomes as much the protagonist as Amalric by half-way. This owes much to the documentary style of the film, whereby the viewer is omniscient throughout. We're there for the warm-up, the laziness, the meals, the performance, the disappointing cubicle sex. The omniscient spectator is granted access to everything. Make of it what we will. Amalric directs and stars, and his acting is thoroughly melodramatic too, as he battles to be part of the limelight we find out he's recently lost due to his tearaway instincts in this way he very much resembles the Mastroianni of Fellini. But these women who want the limelight ("this is our show" he's constantly reminded) disrupt the chances of him ever running the show. Amalric, in a very roundabout way like Boyle in 127 Hours (2010) - seems to be highlighting the impossibility of going it alone.
The film is a mess. But an entertaining mess. In context, it wouldn't make sense any other way.
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