This picture, starring the radiant and naked-most-of-the-time Victoria Abril (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and High Heels), is a schizophrenic tour of Loli's (Abril) life. Her philandering husband Laurent (Alain Chabat) walks all over her. The kids are a constant effort. And when Marijo (Josiane Balasko, who co-wrote and directed as well), a butchest-of-the-butch lesbian, shows up owing to car trouble, a sudden bond of friendship is formed. When Laurent's dalliances finally go too far, Loli finds comfort in the arms...and the bed...and even the bathtub of Marijo.
So that's the titular "twist." And as a premise, it's not a bad one. Balasko's performance is exactly what was required to make the plausibility of the petite and erotic Abril fall for the decidedly non-petite and non-erotic Balasko. But after a brief (and fun) setup and payoff, the film rambles into a roller coaster of "does she or doesn't she" want to stay with her new lifestyle, followed by one false ending after another. The film finally finishes up on a sudden note that is totally confusing, suggesting further "twists on the twist," and by this time, the picture is so silly that any attempt at resolving this whole thing wanders into pointlessness.
Abril's performance is great, as usual, reminding us of her days with director Pedro Almodovar, and as mentioned above, Balasko is a very capable actress. Unfortunately, it appears she had a hand in too many things, as the script just falls apart at random places, becoming either too busy and hard-to-follow or too boring and hard-to-stay awake. Balasko's use of sex jokes is unrelenting (and no one is safe from her good-natured ribbing), but these too get old after the hundredth time.
In the final analysis, French Twist is extremely muddled and feels much longer than its 107 minute running time. Fortunately, it has a few bright spots, including Balasko's subtle message about the cultural double standard between men and women, that will make it worthwhile for the viewer that is truly willing to be patient.
Aka Gazon Maudit.
Look closely at Abril...she's not wearing anything under that apron.
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 19th January 1996
Production compaines: Canal+, Les Films Flam, Renn Productions, TF1 Films Production
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Josiane Balasko
Producer: Pierre Grunstein
Screenwriter: Patrick Aubrée, Josiane Balasko
Starring: Victoria Abril as Loli, Josiane Balasko as Marijo, Alain Chabat as Laurent Lafaye, Ticky Holgado as Antoine, Catherine Hiegel as Dany, Katrine Boorman as Emily Crumble, Telsche Boorman as Dorothy Crumble, Véronique Barrault as Vero
Also starring: Pierre Grunstein
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