Claude Miller follows his successful Alias Betty with the equally mechanical life-imitating-art La Petite Lili, an update of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Somewhere in the French countryside, an aging actress, Mado Marceaux (Nicole Garcia), gathers friends and family together for some desire under the elms. The crew of intellectuals includes Mado’s director boyfriend (Bernard Giraudeau), her son Julien (a perpetually sneering Robinson Stévenin), and a tart (Ludvine Sagnier) the horned-up young man hopes to launch into super-stardom with his pretentious first film. Time is the enemy and everyone grapples with alienation, reality, the conflict between their personal and professional lives, and the interconnectivity “of the soul of man and animal” (oh brother!). This is Chekhov all right, but Miller and co-writer Julien Boivent cover the master dramatist’s classic themes in such a motorized fashion as to suggest every idea in the film was knocked off a bulleted checklist. The locations are lovely and breezy, but the talky material is unbearably suffocating and Miller’s direction is bloodless and impersonal. One wonders what Jacques Rivette could have done with the script—indeed, you can do yourself a whole lot of good by skipping this film and renting New Yorker Video’s uncut DVD edition of Rivette’s masterful La Belle Noiseuse instead.
- First Run Features
- 100 min
- Claude Miller
- Julien Boivent, Claude Miller
- Nicole Garcia, Bernard Giraudeau, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Ludvine Sagnier, Robinson Stévenin, Julie Depardieu, Yves Jacques, Anne le Ny, Marc Betton
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