May 10, 2007

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Avenue Montaigne (PG-13)
Take a charming little trip to Paris with the delightful, silly Avenue Montaigne, a French comedy with English subtitles.

Avenue Montaigne is a little bit like a sitcom, Friends maybe but with older characters and a Paris setting. Jessica (Cťcile De France) has arrived in town with nothing but her grandmotherís memories of Paris luxury and a backpack. She gets a job at a cafť that serves a section of Avenue Montaigne about to be hit by a play, a classical concert and an art auction all on one night. By delivering sandwiches and sodas to the people preparing for these events, she meets Catherine (Valerie Lemercier), a soap actress desperate to get a job with important American film director Brian Sobinski (Sydney Pollack). Jessica talks music with Jean-Francois (Albert Dupontel), a classical pianist whoís sick of the stuffy classical scene and wants to chuck it all to play for kids and sick people. Selling the art is Jacques (Claude Brasseur), an older man who understands his sonís disapproval for his gold-digger girlfriend.

These characters sneak around and talk to each other about life and love and drink and get into goofy situations (Jessica, for example, gets herself locked out on the roof at one point). There is a wacky joy that accompanies every scene in the movie. Even when the silly comedy isnít making you laugh itís hard to keep from smiling. If this movie has any deeper meaning itís lost in the strange subtitle translations that always make all speech more slangy than it would be.

I hope to one day go to Paris and Iím sure if I do it will be wonderful ó good food and great art and whatnot. Iím sure Iíll have a glorious once-in-a-lifetime good time. But I wonít go to Paris as an adventure-seeking youngster with only a backpack and earnest good looks, nor do I want a glimpse at the real-life grittiness that would accompany such an undertaking. This movie understands and serves up a fantasy of pleasant youthful adventure and middle-aged excitment. Avenue Montaigne is light and sweet, like a perfect Madeleine. B

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and brief sexuality. Directed by Daniťle Thompson and written by Daniťle Thompson and Christopher Thompson, Avenue Montaigne (released in French as Fauteulis DíOrchestre) is an hour and 45 minutes long and is distributed in limited release by ThinkFilm. The movie is ending runs at Colonial Theater and the Wilton Town Hall Theater.