Juliette Binoche is a great French actress. I’ve loved her in The English Patient, Unbearable Lightness of Being, Paris, Je T’Aime, Chocolate, and she was even good in the lame Dan in Real Life.
She won Best Actress honors at Cannes for this role, and she’s good in it. Her co-star, William Shimell, is making what I believe is his film debut. In real life he’s an opera singer. In this he plays the part of an author with great aplomb.
I enjoyed their chemistry, and the first half hour of the movie.
He’s in the Tuscany town to do a book signing, and she’s there with a young son. They meet up, because she has a gallery and he’s written about whether art pieces have the same value if they’re replicas of the originals.
Binoche vents about her sister who has bad taste, even in the man she married who stutters (what would they think of this attitude in The King’s Speech?).
Shimell finds the things she says about her sister endearing, which is one of many things about Shimell that frustrates her. Their conversation/debate even prompts him to add something extra to the inscription of the book he had signed for the sister.
Maybe the fact that I collect antique radios, jukeboxes, and music memorabilia – and enjoy conversations along these lines – made me more frustrated at the direction the movie takes.
I have fake antique radios that are aesthetically pleasing to me. They sit on a living room shelf, and one cost me $50 at Radio Shack. The Philco in the garage is worth a lot, and it’s buried in a box. There’s a lot about collectables and art that is odd that way.
Problems arise in this movie when a waitress mistakes them for a married couple. They play along, which is cute for about five minutes.
When a young married couple also mistakes them as being married, that’s fun for a few seconds.
When they get into bizarre petty arguments about things that happened years earlier in their marriage, it’s not the least bit entertaining.
I thought of the enjoyable film My Dinner With Andre, which merely had two people sitting at a table discussing various things. This movie had the potential to be like that, yet instead of us looking at the bald Wallace Shawn, we were staring at the beautiful Binoche. Instead of the same setting (a restaurant in MDWA), we get to see the beautiful hillsides of Tuscany.
It’s a French film, though. That means critics will gush all over it and try to define it as high art. It’s just a boring mess.
The movie was beautifully shot. There’s one scene shot where we see reflections off a windshield which was nice.
I’m not sure what made them decide to cast Shimell in this role, but I’m glad they did. This is the part Michael Caine would’ve played if this was done in 1982.
Late in the movie, it started occurring to me that perhaps the director wanted us to wonder if this marriage is a metaphor for the conversation they had previously about art – whether it means more if it’s real or fake. The whole thing ends up just being confusing.
A lot of time these arty movies do what Saturday Night Live does with a skit. They have a great premise, and start very promising. Instead of ending the piece half way through, they go on and on, and it loses a lot.
This movie got to the point that, at around the two hour mark, I left. I didn’t even care how the thing ended. And I’m guessing there was only another 15 minutes left to finish it out. I couldn’t even bare another second of it.
It gets a D.