Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. France/USA, 2002. Merchant Ivory Productions, Eat Your Soup Productions. Screenplay by Andrew Litvack. Cinematography by Laurent Machuel. Produced by Rahila Bootwala, Nathalie Gastaldo. Music by Geoff Alexander. Production Design by Jacques Bufnoir. Costume Design by Pierre-Yves Gayraud. Film Editing by Giles Gardner.
Despite the fact that his mother is the most famous opera diva in the entire world, young Thomas (Stanislas Merhar) has been avoiding telling her that his girlfriend is a fiction and he’s actually gay. One night after another one of their feisty arguments, Merhar answers a personal phone ad to meet up with a much older gentleman, only to end up witnessing the man being murdered right before his eyes. He spends the next few days searching all of Paris to find the murderer while his mother (Dianne Wiest) is searching for him in an effort to patch things up; things get a little more complicated when mom finds a tray of marijuana-laced brownies in her kitchen and they set her personality on fire. Merhar is also thrown for a loop after he befriends an unstable actress (Jane Birkin in a delightfully zany performance) whose many years of dubbing Vanessa Redgrave‘s film roles in French have left her believing that she is Redgrave herself (a state of mind that is slightly shattered when she comes in contact with the real Redgrave, making a cameo and looking quite luminous). Secrets about the past are revealed, misunderstandings abound about everybody’s relationships, and bedroom doors slam aplenty before the winning finale. This Merchant Ivory-produced distraction is frothy and unimportant, but it is also very enjoyable with deliciously over-the-top characters and fully realized performances: Wiest hasn’t been this much fun since Bullets Over Broadway, and Merhar is wonderfully sympathetic in the lead. Also look for a cameo by a gorgeous Jerry Hall, who still has it all!