Ah, Monaco: the lights, the bay, the glamor, the gambling! Yes -- and the sex, the murder, the eroticism (both homo and hetero)! There's more: A weather girl, her parents, a lawyer, his bodyguard -- and a new TV series devoted to celebrities and their pets. All of this is presented in a bright little package wrapped in colorful gauze tied with a loose and curly ribbon that simply begs you to open it. You do, of course --
who can resist Monaco? -- and it just keeps opening, like an onion, the insides of which you begin to suspect have gone rancid.
That's right: It's an Anne Fontaine film. This French writer/director, shown at right with her husband and star Fabrice Luchini, has been turning out dark divertissements (by the end of each you've often moved from smiling to feeling kicked in the teeth) since 1993, beginning with Love Stories Usually End Badly and continuing through Dry Cleaning, How I Killed My Father, Natalie and now THE GIRL FROM MONACO. (There are others in between which I've not seen.) Fontaine is transgressive; she enjoys snapping the underwear of the haute bourgeoisie, often literally taking her characters into a new realm of experience and feeling (Dry Cleaning), though things never end in quite the manner any of them might have planned. With Fontaine, one pays for one's transgressions, but the trip is often worth its price-tag -- for her characters and us viewers.