Friday 11 May 2012

"Café de Flore" (The Guardian 11/05/12)

Café de Flore (15) *
120 mins

Returning to his native French-speaking Canada after 2009's bland The Young Victoria, writer-director Jean-Marc Vallée here gives us a narcissistic and fundamentally unpersuasive mosaic-film, shuffling around scene fragments, dreams and flashbacks while heading towards what will almost certainly prove to be the stupidest movie twist of the decade. Two stories emerge. Antoine (Kevin Parent) is a superstar DJ in latter-day Montreal whose success can't mask the sadness he feels around his first wife; in late Sixties Paris, meanwhile, a fiercely protective single mother (a dowdified Vanessa Paradis) raises a young boy with Down's syndrome (Marin Gerrier).

These periods are linked by the title track - a Parisian chanson, remixed as chillout in Montreal - and Vallée perhaps had an eye on crafting something for the Spotify crowd. Yet the music, like the Down's syndrome in the very-much-secondary strand, is merely here to provide some emotional substance while le pauvre Antoine mopes to his therapist about the woes of touring and finding multiple soulmates. Remove the subtitles, and it's one of Cameron Crowe's head-in-the-clouds dramas, as scripted by M. Night Shyamalan: an insultingly arbitrary reveal, preceded by vast, wailing washes of Pink Floyd and Sigur Rós. A very vanilla sky, this.

Café de Flore opens in selected cinemas from today.

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