Posted at 4:51 PM on March 29, 2007
by Euan Kerr
There's a charming "Amelie" feel to Daniele Thompson's "Avenue Montaigne." Jessica (Cecile le France,) a young woman with a naive smile, and a history of bad breaks, arrives in Paris seeking her fortune.
She talks her way into a job as a waiter at a bistro which sits next to a theater, a concert hall and an auction house.
It's a place where famous people drop by with the understanding they will be left alone, and soon Jessica stumbles across a pianist, an actress, and an art collector, all in their prime, but all deeply unhappy. As they come into contact with Jessica their worldviews change slightly, but enough to shake them from their malaise.
This film won't change your life, but it's a great way to take a quick Parisian break without the airfare. There are no huge surprises, no car chases, a little romance, and a lot of sitting around in cafes.
Le France, (who has appeared in such diverse films as "l'Auberge Espagnole," Jackie Chan's version of "Around the World in 80 Days" and the gore-fest "High Tension") holds the film together with an easy grace.
The one thing which my high school French did reveal is how the dialog does seem diluted for the subtitles.
A character called "The Actress" played by famed comedienne Valerie Lemercier repeatedly launches into a stream of profanity which is reduced and tamed in the little subtitles, which is unfortunate.
Lermercier's scene where her character tries to convince a visiting US director (Sydney Pollack) she is perfect to play Simone de Beauvoir is marvelous in its broken bilingualism.