Chinese Puzzle

The labored and irritating opening credits set the tone.    They are meant to show how complicated life can be.  The  effort to make things look complicated made me begin to doubt it.  After all, the situation is pretty common.  After a married couple split up, the wife moves far away.  The husband doesn’t want to lose track of his children so he moves close to them.   Moving from Paris to New York poses some challenges, particularly to do with the immigration authorities.

There are many  Chinese characters in the movie, that is, the man moves to Chinatown, his lesbian girlfriend has a Chinese wife, and he ends up saving a Chinese American taxi driver’s life and then marrying a Chinese woman in order to become naturalized.   Even with some charming child actors, there was no verissimilitude to the scenes that would make you trust that the emotional tenor of the characters was true either.  And why in a movie which is in the end a romance, must we watch so many lesbian sex fantasies from the  point of view of the man?  Was Audrey Tatou’s super slow Chinese accent supposed to be funny?  Were we supposed to feel sad that all of these characters are turning 40, as if that is some kind of big deal?

The person I went with to the movie said that this was a French love letter to New York. Maybe. Romain Duris is a very appealing actor, but all of the women in the movie come off as completely unappealing, and I can’t tell how much of that is the script, or the acting, or the directing, or all three.  If you need to see everything Duris makes, then don’t leave this one out.  But he has made much better (The Big Picture, The Beat that My Heart Skipped).



About Patricia Markert

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