I’m guessing that 75% of the French films I see are awful. This movie gets the award this year for having the best cast…in the worst movie.
Director Ira Sachs does character studies (Love is Strange and Little Men are the only two I can recommend), and he took his cast to the lovely villas and palaces of Sintra, Portugal. Perhaps he felt because of the picturesque surroundings, he didn’t need a script. So, you just have a bunch of people walking around, talking, and not saying anything much of interest. The hour and 40 minutes in the movie, felt like an eternity. The ending would have been intriguing, if it weren’t drawn out so long.
There are three generations of people that show up to talk about family issues. One couple is on the verge of divorce, and they’re with their rebellious teenage daughter. Isabelle Huppert plays the family matriarch, a famous actress, who is suffering a terminal illness. She’s also hoping to play matchmaker for her hairstylist (Marisa Tomei). What doesn’t make sense is she wants her to meet her son (Jeremie Renier), who’s a petulant turd. There’s nothing likable about the guy. In one scene, his mom gives him an expensive piece of jewelry, and he chucks it into the woods. And why set him up? She has a talk with him about all his relationships lasting two years. He ends them, and regrets later claiming he loved them and wishes he had them back.
The hairstylist shows up with a boyfriend (Greg Kinnear) she met on the set of the latest Star Wars film. At least that gave us the only funny line in the movie (about what a hairstylist is doing to Chewbacca).
There are so many subplots and each of them could’ve gone in an interesting direction. None of them did. Perhaps they just didn’t have enough time to give the proper attention to develop it. Instead, we have a family of folks we don’t care the least about. And a lot of critics are going to say (even if they give this a bad review), that the performances were great. I’m not so sure they were. They were all so subdued.
A few of the scenes have also been done in so many other movies, and so much better. The aspiring filmmaker thinking nothing of pitching his project to a famous actress; or, the famous actress being approached by an adoring fan, and being talked into attending a birthday celebration (the best use of that is in The Last Movie Star, which was the last movie Burt Reynolds did).
One of my favorite actors, Brendan Gleeson, plays Frankie’s current husband. He spends his time moping around, and occasionally talking to the folks in the pastry shop or Frankie’s now gay ex-husband. At this point, you’re probably thinking what I thought most of the movie. None of this is the least bit credible.
After the third time someone had to tell us about the superstitious story about the fountains or water around the town, I started wondering if this movie was made by the Portugal tourism board.
This is self-indulgent garbage, with horribly uninteresting dialogue.
So, Brendon Gleeson does Frankie. His son Domhnall Gleeson did Frank five years earlier. Both were on my worst of the year lists. Let’s hope Frankie doesn’t go to Hollywood anymore.
1 star for the beautiful scenery.