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.