Ami­able amies

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

CHI­NESE PUZZLE/ CASSETÊTE CHI­NOIS Di­rected by Cé­dric Klapisch. Star­ring Ro­main Duris, Au­drey Tautou, Kelly Reilly, Cé­cile De France, San­drine Holt, Li Jun Li

Club, IFI, Dublin, 117 min

Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion. That’s what “they” say. If Cé­dric Klapisch has been test­ing the the­ory with a tril­ogy of films fol­low­ing four glam­orous young people (we can still just about de­scribe them that way, I think) as they have ro­man­tic ad­ven­tures in Barcelona, St Peters­burg and, now, New York City.

It’s hard to say whether Klapisch has grown up or his char­ac­ters have ma­tured, but the fi­nal movie – af­ter Pot Luck and Rus­sian Dolls – is by far the least an­noy­ing of the three. The char­ac­ters have be­come a lit­tle less self-ab­sorbed. The plot is more en­tan­gled but less con­trived.

Chi­nese Puzzle cen­tres on Xavier, a very French writer played by the never less than French Ro­main Duris. As we be­gin, Xavier’s mar­riage to Wendy (Kelly Reilly) is fal­ter­ing. Things go from bad to worse when he agrees to act as sur­ro­gate par­ent for old chum Is­abelle (Cé­cile de France) and her les­bian part­ner, Ju (San­drine Holt).

In rapid fash­ion, all three end up in New York. Wendy mar­ries a pleas­ant but dull man with bot­tom­less pock­ets. Ju places Xavier in a scruffy apart­ment in Chi­na­town. Later, Mar­tine (Au­drey Tautou) ar­rives to com­plete the party.

Klapisch hasn’t lost all his an­noy­ing ticks. There are a few two many flash cam­era moves and dis­tract­ing ef­fects. But the ac­tors make per­son­al­i­ties of these beau­ti­ful people and the film does have some­thing to say about grow­ing up to­gether and apart.

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