Chinese Puzzle

"Very Good"

Chinese Puzzle Review


French filmmaker Cedric Klapisch keeps the tone light and the serious themes just under the surface as he revisits the lively characters from The Spanish Apartment (2002) and Russian Dolls (2005). Despite its comical plotting, the film remains grounded in real life, this time in an ethnically blended corner of New York City as the characters turn 40 and face major life changes. It's a relaxed, enjoyable romp that sometimes feels rather silly but continually catches the whiff of an important issue.

Our hero Xavier (Romain Duris) is living in Paris, exhausted by the surprises life won't stop throwing at him. The latest shock comes from his girlfriend Wendy (Kelly Reilly), who announces that she's taking their children (Pablo Mugnier-Jacob and Margaux Mansart) and moving back to Manhattan, where she plans to live with another man. Stunned, and knowing he can write anywhere, Xavier follows her and moves in with his old pal Isabelle (Cecil De France) and her girlfriend Ju (Sandrine Holt) in Brooklyn. Perhaps now Xavier might also be able to be in the life of the child he has helped Isabelle conceive to raise with Ju. So he finds a woman, Nancy (Li Jun Li), who will marry him so he can get an American visa. Then his ex-girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tautou) comes for a visit, sparking old feelings that complicate everything.

Yes, the scene is set for a wild farce of a final act as Martine, the immigration investigators, Isabelle and Ju and a variety of kids all converge on Xavier's new Chinatown flat. This wacky slapstick gets rather grating, since there are so many more interesting places this film could have gone, but it's funny and very nicely played by the cast of shamelessly charming actors. Each portrays a person who is incapable of making the most important decisions in their lives, which gives the film a loose sense of authenticity even if the events feel rather contrived.

Duris anchors everything with a complex, charming performance that combines irresponsibility with loyalty: it's easy to see that he cares deeply about his family and friends, regardless of the chaos he causes in his wake. And the actresses are terrific too. Tautou and De France are the comic relief, acting impulsively but never out of dodgy motives. So it's up to Holt and Reilly to provide the earthier touches as more thoughtful, measured women.

In the end, the film never quite gets around to dealing with some of its bigger ideas, but at least they are gurgling constantly in the background. Issues of blended families, cultural diversity, child custody and immigration law are brushed aside by the amusing finale. But Klapisch has a generous eye with his camera, beautifully catching the ethnically mixed lifestyle of any large city, where you find your family in the varied people around you and call it home.

Watch 'Chinese Puzzle' Trailer



Chinese Puzzle

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 117 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th May 2014

Box Office USA: $0.3M

Distributed by: Cohen Media Group

Production compaines: Ce Qui Me Meut, Opposite Field Pictures, Compagnie Cinématographique, La Panache Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 46 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Xavier Rousseau, as Martine, as Isabelle, as Wendy, as Ju, Flore Bonaventura as Isabelle, la babysitter, Jochen Hägele as les philosophes allemands, as le père de Xavier, Martine Demaret as la mère de Xavier, Dominique Besnehard as l'éditeur, Zinedine Soualem as M. Boubaker, as John, Jason Kravits as l'avocat new-yorkais de Xavier, Vanessa Guide as L'infirmière, Kyan Khojandi as Antoine Garceau, Li Jun Li as Nancy, as le photographe (caméo)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.