Daniéle Thompson follows up her breezy but inconsequential 2003 rom-com Jet Lag with Avenue Montaigne, a breezy but inconsequential dramedy that functions as a love letter to the titular Parisian street and the bustling, convivial artistic culture it houses. Young Jessica (Cécile de France), fresh from the countryside where she cared for her doting grandmother, arrives in Paris and immediately gets a job at a traditionally male-staffed café on Avenue Montaigne. There, she inadvertently becomes involved in the personal and professional lives of the performers working nearby, including an esteemed classical pianist named Jean-François (Albert Dupontel) who wants to escape his confining career, a TV soap actress named Catherine (Valérie Lemercier) who pines to be cast in an American filmmaker’s (Sydney Pollack) project about Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir, and a dying gentlemen named Jacques (Claude Brasseur) who is in the process of auctioning off his extensive and lucrative art collection. That this assortment of characters are all attempting, in one way or another, to leave behind and/or flee a former life—usually by taking daunting risks—gives Thompson’s film a familiar, neat-and-tidy structural artificiality. The numerous interconnected storylines, which come to a head on the same night, don’t add up to much more than an innocuous paint-by-numbers lesson about embracing opportunities and enjoying life to its fullest, though mildly charming performances abound, highlighted by those of Lemercier, as a bumbling TV personality desperate to trade in her small-screen celebrity for big-screen stardom, and Dani, as an about-to-retire theater concierge prone to lip-synch songs playing on her headphones. The director refuses to insistently overplay her tale’s comedic and dramatic ingredients, though Avenue Montaigne’s relaxed, frothy lightness is at once appealingly low-key and more than a bit slight, with the various coincidences and dilemmas inoffensive to the point of having scant impact at all.
- 100 min
- Daniéle Thompson
- Daniéle Thompson, Christopher Thompson
- Cécile de France, Valérie Lemercier, Albert Dupontel, Laura Morante, Claude Brasseur, Christopher Thompson, Dani, Annelise Hesme, François Rollin, Sydney Pollack
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