Friday, October 17, 2014

So-so French rom-com opens: Payet & Lauga's RELATIONSHIP STATUS: IT’S COMPLICATED

If you're a sucker for rom-coms, by all means take a look at the new French one from not-quite-yet triple-threat Manu Payet (who stars, co-directs and co-writes) and Rodolphe Lauga (who only co-directs), infelicitously titled in English, RELATIONSHIP STATUS: IT'S COMPLICATED (in French, it's Situation amoureuse: C'est compliqué). Nothing here is all that complicated actually; it's just dumb. And it rather follows in the footsteps of another, better rom-com from last year, Girl on a Bicycle.

That's M. Payet on the poster above, and if one quick glance tells you that he plays his large eyes and hang-dog expression for everything they're worth, you're on the mark. (At this point is his career, however, they may not be worth as much as he imagines.) M. Lauga, shown at left, fares better, simply by positioning himself as co-director only. The story, similar to Girl on a Bicycle, finds a nearly married young man suddenly infatuated with another woman. In this case, it's the girl our hero was in love with back in his school days, who has re-appeared in Paris and in his life.

The two women -- bride-to-be and old non-flame -- are played, respectively, by Anaïs Demoustier (above, and lately of Bird People) and our own Emmanuelle Chriqui (below), both of whom do their best to bring cliches to life. The screenplay is mostly a string of these, and while it is what you might call "professional" it is also full of coincidence, silliness and agitation over little.

The supporting cast offers a couple of OK male performances, via Philippe Duquesne as the Demoustier character's nutty dad and Jean François Cayrey (at left, below) as our hero's not-so-good friend.

The movie's climax comes precisely at the one-hour point, and then we have a 38-minute denouement, which is a little too long. There's not enough content here for the movie's length, and what there is seems mostly second-hand. The film does boast a relatively charming scene in a museum (below), and a bit of dancing-in-the-street fantasy, at bottom.

Considering the attitude and intelligence of the character played by M. Manu, this film is one of the least deserving of a happy ending. But, hey, it's a rom-com, so whatcha gonna do? The actual brief ending, however, is quiet, real and nicely done. If only the rest of the movie had kept some of this smart, subdued style in mind.

Relationship Status: It's Complicated opens today, Friday, October 17, in New York City, exclusively at the Quad Cinema. Elsewhere? Nothing scheduled as yet. We'll try to keep you posted.

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