Russian Dolls

"Weak"

Russian Dolls Review


Not to be confused with the Aussie romance Russian Doll, Russian Dolls is actually a follow-up to the L'Auberge Espagnole, a polyglot confection about a bunch of college roommates living in Barcelona for the summer and undergoing many (largely romantic) misadventures. Five years later we catch up with the characters, comprising most of the original cast (including the since-big-and-famous Audrey Tautou, though she's not on screen for long). Have they grown emotionally, professionally, or intellectually? Well, yes and no, and we'll trot all across Europe to find out how they have and haven't.

Though there are several minor stories here, one sucks up most of the screen time. We start with Xavier (Romain Duris), whose career as a writer hasn't exactly been a hit: He's now co-writing a TV soap opera. His love life looks pretty sweet, though: A parade of women who speak every known language. Unfulfilling, but quite interesting for the audience, no?

Actutally far more interesting is the side story of another fellow who becomes enchanted with a Russian ballet dancer, eventually learns her language, woos her on the road, and marries her by the end of the film. It's sweet where Xavier's story is ridiculous and hollow, even at its best.

Russian Dolls fails for all the reasons that you might expect, and for the same reason they never made Singles 2 or Return to Animal House. These characters had their moment of juvenile fun, now they're supposed to be grown-ups. It's just not interesting nor realistic to see Xavier try to choose between the supermodel or the intellectual, even if he has to chase them down the street in the buff. In fact, it's a little bit insulting to think that either would actually be interested in him. Essentially this is Espagnole on repeat, as if the lessons from the former film had been fully expunged after five years on ice. At over two hours long, the story also repeats itself a few times to often.

While the production values are fine and the cast does a decent job, particularly with its insights into European cultural quirks, it's hard to recommend the film unless you're a big fan of the original.

The DVD includes a making-of featurette.

Aka Les Poupées russes.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 15th June 2005

Budget: $13M

Distributed by: Cinema Libre Studio

Production compaines: Lunar Films, StudioCanal, France 2 Cinéma, Canal+, Ce Qui Me Meut Motion Pictures, TPS Cinéma

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Xavier Rousseau, as Wendy, as Martine, as Isabelle, as William, Olivier Saladin as Gérard, Zinedine Soualem as M. Boubaker, Evguenya Obraztsova as Natacha, Irene Montalà as Neus, Pierre Gérald as le grand-père, Frédérique Bel as Barbara, as l'homme du train, Aïssa Maïga as Kassia, Gary Love as Edward, as Celia Shelburn, Martine Demaret as la mère de Xavier, Pierre Cassignard as Platane, Hélène Médigue as Mme Vanpeteguem, la banquière, as la productrice TV, Robert Plagnol as l'auteur de la série, Nicolas Briançon as le réalisateur de la série, Bernard Haller as Michel Hermann, as Soledad, Federico D'Anna as Alessandro, as Tobias, Christian Pagh as Lars, Lannick Gautry as le snowboarder

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