RUSSIAN DOLLS (LES POUPEES RUSSES) (2006)
Starring Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cécile DeFrance, Kelly Reilly, Kevin Bishop, Evguenya Obraztsova, Irene Montala, Lucy Gordon, Gary Love, Aïssa Maiga, Oliver Saladin, Martine DeMaret, Pierre Cassignard, Cristina Brondo, Federico D’Anna, Barnaby Metschurat and Christian Pagh.
Screenplay by Cedric Klapisch.
Directed by Cedric Klapisch.
Distributed by IFC Films. 129 minutes. Not Rated.
Russian Dolls is the sequel to the 2002 film L’Auberge Espagnole, a film about a varied group of twenty-somethings sharing a flat in Barcelona. I never saw it, but always heard good things about that movie. Watching the new film I often felt that I had missed points in the original that would make this new film make a little more sense. Not that it was hard to figure out, just that some character points have been established earlier that would explain who these people are and why they do what they do. Without seeing the first, they are just sort of plopped down in the middle. Just like real life, come to think of it.
In theory, the film is about the group reuniting in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the wedding of one of the guys, a Brit who has fallen for a prima ballerina from the former Soviet Republic. I say in theory, because the actual wedding plays just a small part in the movie; maybe the last half hour at the most, with just a few brief sections leading up to it earlier.
Instead the film revolves around the romantic travails of Xavier (Romain Duris), a French wannabe writer who seems to get involved with an amazing amount of women, all of which he screws up every bit as spectacularly. For a man who is convinced he has no luck at love – and who often proves it – there are still an incredible amount of women orbiting him; his ex-girlfriend who he still holds a flame for (Audrey Tautou), a beautiful salon worker, a lesbian roommate (Cécile DeFrance), a supermodel (Lucy Gordon), a British fellow writer (and sister of the marrying friend) (Kelly Reilly) and several more.
In the hands of less talented filmmakers, Xavier’s crisis of romantic faith might seem shallow and self-centered. While no one will ever call Russian Dolls a deep film, writer/director Cedric Klapisch has made his travails charmingly whimsical and romantic. We know Xavier will do absolutely the wrong thing at every crossroads, but we grow to care enough about him that we do feel sympathy and hope that he will finally work his way through and find true love. (10/06)
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 10, 2006.