Catherine Frot

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Chaos (2001) Review


OK
Coline Serreau's Chaos is never quite sure of what it wants to be. The story of a Parisian woman who becomes involved with a prostitute fleeing a gang of pimps, the film could easily be summarized as a cat-and-mouse thriller. On the other hand, it's also the comical story of the same woman's bumbling husband and son, who - once she takes off on the lam with her new hooker companion - can't perform even the simplest household tasks without female supervision. And yet, more than anything else, it's a social drama about seemingly powerless women fighting back against a male-dominated society that physically and psychologically beats them into submissive roles. Wildly careening between crime drama, French farce, and woman's picture, the film frequently seems to be on the verge of splitting at the seams. But even if Chaos is hampered by a desire to be all things to all people, Serreau's nimble touch bestows this schizophrenic genre pastiche with an infectiously zany verve.

Hélène's (Catherine Frot) loveless marriage to Paul (Vincent Lindon) comes to a head when, while returning home from an evening out on the town, a hysterical hooker (Rachida Brakni, in a mesmerizing debut performance) throws herself on the hood of their car while attempting to escape a trio of savage attackers. Instead of trying to save the woman, Paul instinctively locks the doors, thus allowing the men to finish dishing out their brutal beating. When the assailants are done, Paul - a paragon of twenty-first century male insensitivity - is more interested in cleaning his windshield of prostitute blood than tending to the savagely beaten girl lying next to his shiny new sedan.

Continue reading: Chaos (2001) Review

The Page Turner Review


Weak
Drained bourgeois chill is so 2001. Denis Dercourt's debut thriller The Page Turner has the ethereal calm of a "Sounds of the Ocean" mix tape and it doesn't seem the least bit interested in disrupting that tone. With its demented psychosexual ramblings and robust flourishes of music, this would-be Chabrol rip-off (without the humor and panache) has a certain charm about it, but that doesn't constitute a successful exercise necessarily.

As a young butcher's daughter, Melanie had talent at the piano. Her father would stay up and listen to her play while saving up enough money to possibly send her off to an academy that deals in gifted pianists. Her audition gets sabotaged when one of the instructors, Ariane Fouchecourt (Catherine Frot), allows an autograph hound into the recital, breaking her concentration. She goes home, locks up her piano, and puts her little Mozart statue in the closet.

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Un Air De Famille Review


Weak
There are exactly three moments in this movie that are really worth watching, and one of them comes when a fashionable woman's choker is mistaken for a dog collar (an obvious joke I know, but always funny). The other two moments are the only two times that this relentless work of realism even begins to approach optimism.

Un Air de Famille, or Family Resemblances by its English title, is your typical under-drama from the French cinema. It is a single setting observation of the interactions of an estranged family at the weekly family dinner, when tensions begin to run high. I would mention the performances here, but they all kind of run into one melancholy melange, ultimately resulting in very striking resemblances between the characters, at least insofar as my opinion of them.

Continue reading: Un Air De Famille Review

Chaos Review


OK
Coline Serreau's Chaos is never quite sure of what it wants to be. The story of a Parisian woman who becomes involved with a prostitute fleeing a gang of pimps, the film could easily be summarized as a cat-and-mouse thriller. On the other hand, it's also the comical story of the same woman's bumbling husband and son, who - once she takes off on the lam with her new hooker companion - can't perform even the simplest household tasks without female supervision. And yet, more than anything else, it's a social drama about seemingly powerless women fighting back against a male-dominated society that physically and psychologically beats them into submissive roles. Wildly careening between crime drama, French farce, and woman's picture, the film frequently seems to be on the verge of splitting at the seams. But even if Chaos is hampered by a desire to be all things to all people, Serreau's nimble touch bestows this schizophrenic genre pastiche with an infectiously zany verve.

Hélène's (Catherine Frot) loveless marriage to Paul (Vincent Lindon) comes to a head when, while returning home from an evening out on the town, a hysterical hooker (Rachida Brakni, in a mesmerizing debut performance) throws herself on the hood of their car while attempting to escape a trio of savage attackers. Instead of trying to save the woman, Paul instinctively locks the doors, thus allowing the men to finish dishing out their brutal beating. When the assailants are done, Paul - a paragon of twenty-first century male insensitivity - is more interested in cleaning his windshield of prostitute blood than tending to the savagely beaten girl lying next to his shiny new sedan.

Continue reading: Chaos Review

The Dinner Game Review


Good
French farce as it's rarely done these days -- well. The Dinner Game presents the straigtforward tale of a wealthy publisher who attends a weekly "idiot dinner," with the prize going to the guest who brings with him the biggest fool. Pierre (Lhermitte) is sure he's going to win with François (Villeret) -- only they never actually make it to the dinner because Pierre hurts his back. The idiot becomes an unwanted guest in his home, and before we know it, Pierre's life is almost ruined thanks to François's stupidity and naïveté. There's a moral to the story that I won't ruin, but The Dinner Game is raucously funny despite its smallness. An excellent way to spend a free hour and change.

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The Dinner Game Review


Weak

Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I just don't find Francis Veber's brand of French farce all that funny. "La Cage aux Folles"? Feh. "Le Jouet"? Nice try. "Les Comperes"? Whatever.

But then again, I think the American remakes of these movies -- "The Birdcage," "The Toy" and "Father's Day," respectively -- are considerably worse.

"The Dinner Game" seems to be more of the same. The writer-director's new effort is about a club of Parisian yuppie socialites who gather monthly for a dinner at which they compete to see who can bring the biggest idiot.

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