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With: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Devos, Maurice Garrel, Catherine Deneuve
Written by: Arnaud Desplechin
Directed by: Arnaud Desplechin
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 150
Date: 09/03/2004

Kings and Queen (2005)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

No Big Deal

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This long (150 minute) French film from Arnaud Desplechin (Esther Kahn) follows two separate storylines. A loony musician, Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), is committed to an asylum, while a woman, Nora (Emmanuelle Devos), learns that her father is dying. Desplechin eventually reveals that they're a divorced couple. Though Kings and Queen has captured the hearts and minds of the East Coast highbrow critics, I can't quite get my head around it. Ismael is too cartoony and Nora is too icy, and the more Desplechin reveals about either of them, the less interesting they become. Desplechin seems to be fond of playing tricks on the audience, such as the sudden appearance of a large black woman as a feared and respected psychiatrist, or his brutal ending, which suddenly switches sympathy from one character to another. But the overall rambling sprawl of this slow film is not really the work of a trickster. Kings and Queen is more like a collection of odd-sized chunks, some shapely and appealing, and others jagged and unseemly -- though Catherine Deneuve does provide a bright spot with her small role as a therapist. It could be that the film holds more than a single viewing can reveal, so call this a marginal recommendation.

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