Opening 31 Aug 2006
Ahhh, leave it to the French to have made a film about the importance of culture and beauty.
Jessica (Cecile de France, L’Auberge Espagnole-Barcelona für ein Jahr) leaves her small town in Provence to seek her fortune in Paris. Having lost her parents earlier in a car accident, she is guided by her loving grandmother, who had worked as a washroom attendant at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, happy to be always surrounded by luxury and beauty. Jessica’s luck begins when she finds a job at a small bistro on the bustling Avenue Montaigne. The bistro’s customers are a diverse crowd from the nearby auction house, theater and concert hall. As one of the few bistros to still offer delivery service, Jessica is allowed through the doors and into the private lives of several fascinating performers and lovers of the arts. Cecile de France plays an inquisitive and somewhat naive young woman whose unassuming personality encourages her new aquaintances to immediately confide in her.
Catherine (Valerie Lemercier) is a stressed out actress whose performance in a French soap opera makes her a local celebrity. The soap is filmed until late at night, when she catches a few hours of sleep in her car and then staggers on stage the next morning for rehearsals of an upcoming comedy. A classical pianist (Albert Dupontel) is frustrated by the formality of the performance world and longs to play for a non-elite and younger audience – which threatens his wife and her comfortable lifestyle. A wealthy art collector and widower (Claude Brasseur) is selling his life’s collection of art against the wishes of his son – so that he may enjoy the pleasure of seeing the treasures pass on to other appreciative collectors. Film director Sydney Pollack is seeking talent for an upcoming production of Simone de Beauvoir and sees just what he wants in the spirited Catherine. In 1995 Mr. Pollack had directed Ms. LeMercier in a production of Sabrina.
Cecile de France is charming as a naturally curious and unassuming coquette. This is a delightful film and a reminder of how beautiful Paris really is – and why it will always be for many their favorite city. (Patricia Ritz)