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Petar B. Vasilev
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Growing old without noticing Lvovsky's a triple threat. She writes, she acts, and this is her fifth feature directorial effort. Much of her work has been with Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, who directed her in her film 'Actresses', which was part of the 2007 New York Film Festival. This new movie is built around the charming, shambling 76-year-old Jean-Pierre Marielle, who was seen in 'Gray Souls'/'Les ames grises' (in the 2006 Rendez-Vous), 'The Da Vinci Code'; and he is involved in four 2008 films. Salomon Bellinsky (Marielle) is a French Jew who laid low om a cellar, rumor has it, during the war; his family was wiped out; he prefers not to discuss the Shoah or what he was up to at the time himself. He has a long-estranged wife, Geneviève (Bulle Ogier), a sweet little lady who's losing her marbles and is cared for devotedly by a certain M. Mootoosamy (Bakary Sangaré). Is the latter supposed to be Indian? He appears to be a Hindu and the film opens, a bit strangely, with him and Geneviève at a religious festival in India.
Bruni-Tedeschi has to be on hand, of course, and she is Sarah, Salomon's rather distracted daughter, who narrates, and who has a nice calm orderly man in her life called Francois (Arié Elmaleh), who does things with mice and is good at fixing things.
What about the title? Well, Salomon goes to a tap dancing class for older folks, and loves to watch Fred Astaire movies at home on DVD. He's a liver; he wants to enjoy whatever amount of life he has left (but he reminds his family how long the Old Testament prophets lived and won't rule out surviving at least another forty years). Salomon is a sprightly old guy, and he runs an ad to find a girlfriend. After a number of failures, he lands Violette (Sabine Azéma: 'La Buche,' 'Coeurs,' etc., etc., rather in 'Annie Hall' mode here), and they have good times. Maybe "Let's Dance" also means "let's survive" or "let's move on." Sarah has always been told she can't get pregnant, and she does, and has her baby, on screen--comedy heaven, of a sort, since comedy is about bringing people together, and this brings the family to her hospital room, though she's had the baby in odd circumstances, at a psychiatric clinic, watched over by a shrink, and a nurse who runs off for hot water and clean towels because that's what they do in the movies. Survival is tougher for Geneviève, though she's blithely unaware of it. She's given away her money and even her furniture, and when she and M. Mootoosamy go to Zurich to check on a bank safe deposit box, the stack of cash they retrieve from it comes to grief. Salomon likes to gamble away his disposable income though, and one day without in the least wanting to, winds up with a large sum, which he forces on M. Mootoosamy--so Geneviève never winds up on the street, nor does the good Mootoosamy.
Any direct resemblance between all this and everyday life is absolutely coincidental and surely minimal. It's just a warm, humane diversion about Jewishness, old age, having fun, and learning to live. One can watch it for Jean-Pierre Marielle; but Ogier, Bruni Tedeschi, and Azéma have their fans too.
Shown as part of the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, February 29-March 9, 2008, Let's Danse!/Faut que ça danse ! opened November 14, 2007 in Paris.
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