The International Writers Magazine: French Movie Review

Russian Dolls Directed by Cedric Klapisch
Starring Romain Duris, Kelly Reilly, Audrey Tautou, CÚcile De France, Kevin Bishop

A Robert Cottingham Review

ussian Dolls is a messy, random movie that would like to think of itself as witty, sophisticated and sexy. Watching it is like being lumbered with a pedantic bore at a party, and the movie doesn’t realise how little it entertains us.

It’s full of self-interested twenty-something’s, who I was informed made up the stars of a little seen movie called Pot Luck four years ago, and are now reunited for us to suffer once more.

Xavier (Romain Duris - The Beat that my heart skipped) is a supposedly successful writer with precious little to say about his life or his own experiences. Somehow, he finds himself commissioned to write a television love story, and the movie follows his amorous adventures with half the women in Paris, amongst who are Audrey Tatou, Cecile de France and Lucy Gordon.

What’s mystifying about the film is that the writer has absolutely no insights into his own romantic life, offering us only the most flippant assertions and beliefs. The film is little more than a tiresome retread of pretty much any twenty-something soap, movie or novel you have ever encountered.

The only time the movie began to show a frisson of sexiness or fun was when the action was relocated to London, allowing Xavier to collaborate with slinky scriptwriter Kelly Reilly. Reilly won the best newcomer award at Cannes for her role, and I’d say she deserved such recognition. It's a truly awful movie, but somehow she breaks out of the shell of the movie’s banality to give us a sense of what love actually means for people, and of how it feels to be in and out of love. She finds humanity in her character who appears to crave and at the same time fear the thought of being in love and of being loved in return. Watching her is a reminder that there are some very good movies to be made about the subject, but I would suggest that all future filmmakers be prevented from making any more movies about the self-satisfied me generation.

© Robert Cottingham May 9th 2006

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