CHIC!, the new movie starring that diva-to-idolize, Fanny Ardant, was a French farce. It's not. There are no slamming doors, characters running from room to room, in flagrante delicto moments, nor any of the other signs that a farce in on view. This surprisingly low-key movie refuses to push almost anything, relying instead on subtlety, sweetness and humor based more on character than situation to charm the pants off us. Which it does. My pants, at least (my spouse's, too).
Laurent Stocker, at center, below), and the down-to-earth gardener (a terrific Eric Elmosnino) hired to give Hélène's home a touch of green.
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life. His performance here shows once again how very versatile he is, fitting easily into just about any kind of character and genre.
Jérôme Cornuau (shown below), is a newcomer to my purview, though he has made nearly 20 films (most of them for French television). So whether it is more his doing or that of his screenwriter,
Jean-Paul Bathany, I cannot say for certain (maybe a lucky combination of both), but the product of this collaboration is such a gentle, loving rom-com-cum-satire that yours truly found himself, for maybe the first time in his film-going history, being able to appreciate a movie with fashion -- the most-often appalling and ludicrous of all the supposed "arts" -- at its center.
How Monsieurs Cornuau & Bathany achieve this is by keeping their humor grounded in character rather than "event," the latter of which usually leads to a sit-com Even their "diva" is just a human being, brought to fine life by Ardant, who has a wonderful little speech toward film's end, in which her character tackles behavior and artists and makes a most interesting, sensible and telling point.
Lady Chatterley) is quite special here, balancing her anger and hauteur against a genuineness and gentleness just begging to be allowed to appear. As they gradually do, the movie morphs into something we hadn't initially expected. Think of it as a rom-com with smarts -- lots of 'em.
Distrib Films US and running 103 minutes -- opens this Friday, May 1, at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills. If you don't live in the L.A. area, never fear: the film will be available simultaneously on Vudu, iTunes and Google Play. (Eventually, I would hope, we'll be able to see this one via Netflix streaming. But not quite yet.)