Three’s a crowd in French rom-dram­edy

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MOVIES - By Katie Walsh

If you were wor­ried about the fate of the smart ro­man­tic dram­edy, which seems to have been ban­ished from Amer­i­can movie stu­dios — don’t worry. The genre is en­joy­ing ex­pat life, alive and well in France. A few of th­ese have reached Amer­i­can shores in re­cent years, and Julie Delpy’s “Lolo” is the most re­cent ad­di­tion. This light­hearted but soul­ful look into the com­pli­ca­tions of midlife dat­ing will scratch that rom-dram itch with its frank and funny wis­dom.

Delpy, who co-wrote and di­rected the film, stars as Vi­o­lette, a 45-year old Parisian woman, a fash­ion art di­rec­tor and sin­gle mom to 20-year-old Eloi, aka “Lolo” (Vin­cent La­coste). Dur­ing a girls’ spa va­ca­tion in Biar­ritz, she hooks up with di­vorced Jean-Rene (Dany Boon), and the one-night stand turns into a longer term fling, and then even more se­ri­ous when he moves to Paris for a new job. There’s only one per­son who isn’t thrilled about MPAA rat­ing: Un­rated Run­ning time: 1:37 Opens: Fri­day the new love: Lolo.

Vi­o­lette is un­able to see Lolo as any­thing other than her bounc­ing baby boy, and the way she speaks to and about him makes it seem as if he’s a much younger child. In fact, he’s a caus­tic, dead­pan hip­ster, a strug­gling artist who re­mains on mummy’s teat, crash­ing at her apart­ment, lithely lolling about in pas­tel un­der­pants, munch­ing on the “eggs and sol­diers” she cooks for him. It’s no won­der that he bris­tles at the new man in mom’s life, and a country bump­kin at that — an af­front to the ur­bane Lolo. He quickly sets to schem­ing to break them up.

The en­tan­gle­ment that Lolo weaves drives a wedge be­tween Vi­o­lette and JeanRene, but Delpy wisely demon­strates how small and silly mis­un­der­stand­ings can lead to larger con­flicts among two adults who have their own lives, their own ro­man­tic histo- ries and their own bag­gage. Lolo causes mis­chievous chaos, scat­ter­ing seeds of doubt that grow toxic in any re­la­tion­ship.

Un­for­tu­nately, “Lolo,” fal­ters slightly when it dras­ti­cally es­ca­lates his med­dling from mildly ir­ri­tat­ing to es­sen­tially crim­i­nal, plung­ing the light ro­man­tic romp into much darker ter­ri­tory. The Freudian themes in the film’s fi­nal act are teased at a few times, but a deeper ex­plo­ration through­out would have of­fered more in­sight into Lolo’s mo­ti­va­tions, which are a mys­tery un­til the very end.

Delpy is lu­mi­nous and ef­fer­ves­cent as al­ways, and shares an easy chem­istry with Boon as the bum­bling but well-in­ten­tioned naif. Some of the fun­ni­est mo­ments are be­tween Delpy and her best friend, Ari­ane (Karin Viard).

La­coste plays the droll an­tag­o­nist per­fectly, al­most never break­ing from his cool, ex­pres­sion­less gaze.

The trio makes for an un­con­ven­tional love tri­an­gle not of­ten ex­plored on screen.

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