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Chinese Puzzle Review


Very Good

French filmmaker Cedric Klapisch keeps the tone light and the serious themes just under the surface as he revisits the lively characters from The Spanish Apartment (2002) and Russian Dolls (2005). Despite its comical plotting, the film remains grounded in real life, this time in an ethnically blended corner of New York City as the characters turn 40 and face major life changes. It's a relaxed, enjoyable romp that sometimes feels rather silly but continually catches the whiff of an important issue.

Our hero Xavier (Romain Duris) is living in Paris, exhausted by the surprises life won't stop throwing at him. The latest shock comes from his girlfriend Wendy (Kelly Reilly), who announces that she's taking their children (Pablo Mugnier-Jacob and Margaux Mansart) and moving back to Manhattan, where she plans to live with another man. Stunned, and knowing he can write anywhere, Xavier follows her and moves in with his old pal Isabelle (Cecil De France) and her girlfriend Ju (Sandrine Holt) in Brooklyn. Perhaps now Xavier might also be able to be in the life of the child he has helped Isabelle conceive to raise with Ju. So he finds a woman, Nancy (Li Jun Li), who will marry him so he can get an American visa. Then his ex-girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tautou) comes for a visit, sparking old feelings that complicate everything.

Yes, the scene is set for a wild farce of a final act as Martine, the immigration investigators, Isabelle and Ju and a variety of kids all converge on Xavier's new Chinatown flat. This wacky slapstick gets rather grating, since there are so many more interesting places this film could have gone, but it's funny and very nicely played by the cast of shamelessly charming actors. Each portrays a person who is incapable of making the most important decisions in their lives, which gives the film a loose sense of authenticity even if the events feel rather contrived.

Continue reading: Chinese Puzzle Review

The Adopted Review


Extraordinary
With her directing debut, actress Laurent proves to be an insightful, sensitive filmmaker. This story centres tightly on five members of an assembled family, finding layers of resonance in each scene.

Orphaned as a child, Marine (Denarnaud) was adopted by Millie (Celarie) and raised alongside adoptive sister Lisa (Laurent), who's now a single mum to Leo (Maquet-Foucher). And their life is pretty much like any family's, with deep-seated love submerged under layers of family history, tiny grudges and personality issues. So Lisa struggles to get excited about Marine's charming new boyfriend Alex (Menochet). Then their lives take a dark twist, and each person has to stop and think about what they really mean to each other.

Continue reading: The Adopted Review

L'Auberge Espagnole Review


Good
A movie like L'Auberge Espagnole should feel like an embrace. You should be pulled into the close-knit environment of seven young, smart, sexy Europeans living together in a Barcelona flat (The title translates to "Euro Pudding"). You should feel the confusion of the movie's young protagonist as he struggles with his feelings for three women.

Though it is a solid movie with some astute observations, L'Auberge Espagnole constantly pushes you away like a busy parent on a deadline. The movie never makes a connection because it's too busy tackling too many subjects, instead of focusing on doing one thing well.

Continue reading: L'Auberge Espagnole Review

Russian Dolls Review


OK
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?

Continue reading: Russian Dolls Review

L'Auberge Espagnole Review


Good
A movie like L'Auberge Espagnole should feel like an embrace. You should be pulled into the close-knit environment of seven young, smart, sexy Europeans living together in a Barcelona flat (The title translates to "Euro Pudding). You should feel the confusion of the movie's young protagonist as he struggles with his feelings for three women.

Though it is a solid movie with some astute observations, L'Auberge Espagnole constantly pushes you away like a busy parent on a deadline. The movie never makes a connection because it's too busy tackling too many subjects, instead of focusing on doing one thing well.

Continue reading: L'Auberge Espagnole Review

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Bruno Levy Movies

Chinese Puzzle Movie Review

Chinese Puzzle Movie Review

French filmmaker Cedric Klapisch keeps the tone light and the serious themes just under the...

The Adopted Movie Review

The Adopted Movie Review

With her directing debut, actress Laurent proves to be an insightful, sensitive filmmaker. This story...

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L'Auberge Espagnole Movie Review

L'Auberge Espagnole Movie Review

A movie like L'Auberge Espagnole should feel like an embrace. You should be pulled into...

L'Auberge Espagnole Movie Review

L'Auberge Espagnole Movie Review

A movie like L'Auberge Espagnole should feel like an embrace. You should be pulled into...

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