La Femme De Rio

****1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

La Femme De Rio
"Role play becomes droll play for writer/directors Emma Luchini and Nicolas Rey."

Role play becomes droll play for writer/directors Emma Luchini and Nicolas Rey in La Femme De Rio, which showed alongside Luchini's feature My Men as part of the French Film Festival UK. It was an appropriate combination as its main character Gabriel (played by Rey) is, in many ways, another incarnation of the not-so-recovering alcoholic Martin who appears in the feature (also co-written by Rey, adapting from his own novel).

Gabriel is trying to make a new start, or at least finish with what has gone before, although his apartment indicates things aren't going so well. Furniture is still swathed in protective wrapping, as though he doesn't have the heart to fully embrace it, while his phone answer message slyly suggests that being on the wagon could just be a momentary hiatus. His fridge, meanwhile, is stuffed with the remains of a dozen sushi meals, which he picks at alone with a knife and fork.

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As if that wasn't bad enough, there's a raging party going on next door and his agent is desperately trying to pry him from his flat. Stepping out to see what all of the fuss is about, he discovers a forgotten phone on the landing of his apartment block and takes it inside, little realising that he will soon be embarking on a meet-cute with its owner Audrey (CĂ©line Sallette). She won't take 'I'm out' for an answer and, on being let into his home, suggests a whirlwind romance - complete with children - as the two of them, chastely, fast-forward through the steps of a relationship over the course of a few hours.

It's a novel idea and Luchini and Rey have a knack for making what might sound absurd seem entirely natural to their two protagonists. The surface is funny but, as with all good comedy, there are more profound ideas about embracing change and accepting circumstances going on under the surface. The chemistry between Rey and Sallette is also spot on, offering the spark of new possibilities. The film won the Cesar for best short in France - catch it if you can.

Reviewed on: 11 Nov 2016
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A recovering alcoholic who refuses to leave his flat embarks on a whirlwind imagined romance with a woman he meets by chance.

Director: Emma Luchini, Nicolas Rey

Writer: Emma Luchini, Nicolas Rey

Starring: Nicolas Rey, Céline Sallette, Laurent Laffargue, Steve Tran, Rachel Khan, Elodie Rouge

Year: 2013

Runtime: 20 minutes

Country: France

Festivals:

French 2016

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