Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pardon My French: going through the motions

Melbourne International Film Festival 2009

Pardon My French is a puzzling title for this colourless film. Un chat un chat is the French name of this disappointing comedy/drama.

To call a cat a cat (or spade), Pardon My French is a dud. Célimène aka Nathalie (Chiara Mastroianni) says that she is “unstitching herself” though she denies having depression. She is a well-known novelist, who sometimes refuses to speak even to her psychiatrist. Apart from writer’s block the causes of her emptiness and identity crisis are unclear. Her lack of passion quickly becomes tiresome.

There are four people in her life who are trying to help her overcome her listlessness. Her seven year old son Adam (Mateo Julio Cedron) is suitably precocious but not enough to redeem the movie’s flaws. They are staying with her mother (Dominique Valadié ) while her apartment is renovated. It’s wrapped in plastic like a Christo Art project. Mum regularly interrupts her sleep baking habit.

Her last partner Viorel (Philippe Rebbot) is even less charismatic than his estranged lover.

A seventeen year old girl Anaïs (Agathe Bonitzer) is stalking her in a “friendly” way. She wants to write about her. Their interactions are sometimes bizarre but ultimately boring.

Célimène’s transition back to some kind of normality is so nuanced, it appears seamless. Apart from a not-so-surprising birthday party, there is no dramatic climax. She just floats back into life.

Pardon My French is not comic enough nor does it explore deeply into Célimène’s inner life. Its competent cast had little to work with.

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