Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chiara Mastroianni, Melvil Poupaud, Hubert Saint-Macary, Serge Merlin, Mathieu Amalric, Danièle Dubroux, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Micheline Presle
Written by: Danièle Dubroux, based on the novel by Søren Kierkegaard
Directed by: Danièle Dubroux
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 95
Date: 03/19/2013

Diary of a Seducer (1996)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The most significant thing about the French movie Diary of a Seducer is the magnificent genes of its star. Chiara Mastroianni is the offspring of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni. If for nothing else other than that, she is amazing to watch. Unfortunately, the role that she plays, a girl named Claire, is a quiet one, taking a backseat to more flamboyant roles in the movie. She has a great face and mannerisms, but we will have to see what else she can do before we can proclaim her a great new star.

Diary of a Seducer is an interesting comedy that goes wrong. It starts marvelously, with a funny and odd present-day scene. The rest of the movie is a flashback, traveling in a circle back to explain the peculiar beginning. Claire is at the center of the story. In it, she meets two boys: Sebastien (Mathieu Amalric), a strange fellow who moves in with Claire and her soft-hearted mother (played by the director, Daniele Dubroux), and Gregoire (Melvil Poupaud), a philosophy student with wild hair who loans Claire his own out-of-print copy of Kierkegaard's Diary of a Seducer.

Claire falls in love with Gregoire because of the book and actively pursues him, but Gregoire is a little strange and he surrounds himself with strange people, like his aging, faded movie star grandmother and his weird scientist neighbor who listens through the door for Gregorie to come home. She constantly goes to his house only to be sidetracked by curiouser and curiouser conditions. When she finally spends the night with him, she finds something even wilder in his freezer. The other boy, Sebastien (who may or may not be gay) decides to seduce Claire's mother as a means to get to Claire (whatever that means). Claire then gives the book to her shrink, who falls in love with Claire.

What we have here is a lot of good ideas delivered in a mixed-up, jumbled sort of way. While it sounds good on paper, as it must have to the filmmakers, on screen it betrays a lack of trust. A lot of these scenes were simply not necessary. They are overkill, thrown in just in case the audience doesn't get the main points. Perhaps if the filmmaker had taken a more forceful approach to the material instead of the laid-back, deadpan tone it has here, it would have succeeded.

Best Buy Co, Inc.