Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cécile De France, Valérie Lemercier, Albert Dupontel, Laura Morante, Claude Brasseur, Christopher Thompson, Dani, Annelise Hesme, Fran�ois Rollin, Sydney Pollack, Daniel Benoin, Françoise Lépine, Guillaume Gallienne, Christian Hecq, Julia Molkhou, Suzanne Flon, Michel Vuillermoz, Laurent Mouton, Werner, Marc Rioufol, Simon de Pury
Written by: Christopher Thompson, Danièle Thompson
Directed by: Danièle Thompson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some strong language and brief sexuality
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 100
Date: 01/21/2006

Avenue Montaigne (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Show Hoppers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With her third film, the veteran screenwriter-turned-director Danièle Thompson (La Bûche, Jet Lag) displays a kind of intelligent lightness, like a less skilled Woody Allen or Eric Rohmer. She revels in the problems and activities of beautiful, upper-middle-class people, and if she doesn't always know where to place the camera, her sparkling dialogue and the rich performances she elicits consistently make up for it. Here, the spiky-haired, carefree Jessica (Cécile De France, from High Tension and Russian Dolls), equipped with knee-high boots, a mini-skirt and a pack of street smarts, applies for a job in a much-beloved café. Located within shouting distance of a concert hall, a theater and an auction house, the café serves everyone from famous actors to stagehands. On the same night there will be a performance by a burned-out classical pianist (Albert Dupontel), a play starring actress Catherine Versen (Valerie Lemercier), who is working on a successful, highly-paid TV show but longs for more challenging work, and an auction given by Jacques Grumberg (Claude Brasseur), selling off his life's collection of priceless artworks. Jessica innocently blunders into all three lives and influences each to follow his or her heart. The script, co-written by Thompson and her son Christopher, is superbly crafted, and even places a few dazzling skyline shots exactly where they're needed. Sydney Pollack co-stars, speaking an impressive combination of French and English, as a famous film director, considering Catherine for his film about Simone de Beauvoir; Pollack may not be an auteur in France, but he's certainly one of the few famous directors who can really act (see Eyes Wide Shut and Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives). The film's original title, Fauteuils d'orchestre, translates to "Orchestra Seats," but for some reason the distributor decided on this more awkward, less meaningful title.

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