Rien Sur Robert

Rien Sur Robert

****1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Whenever witty, sexy, intelligent movies are made in Europe, The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie is dusted off and given an airing. "Very Bunuellian," the commentators burble. "So discreet it's charming." Pascal Bonitzer's hilarious life in the times of a paranoid Parisian critic slots neatly into this category. If Bunuel had directed the film, it would have been drier and more cynical. As it is, Fabrice Luchini slips his leash and gives the funniest performance of the year, with Michel Piccoli, in a support role, coming a strong second.

Didier (Luchini) and his girlfriend, Juliette (Sandrine Kiberlain), have just split up. He is feeling delicate and sorry for himself, keeps worrying about how he looks and hating every author who writes well, particularly living ones. He and Juliette continue to see each other, as if they need the comfort of confidences, and she tells him about the fabulous sex she's having with a documentary maker.

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He goes to lunch with a famous literary figure (Piccoli), even though he hasn't been invited, and is lambasted by the great man for a review of a Bosnian film he didn't see. He is accused of intellectual arrogance and told, with the utmost sarcasm: "You have nothing to say." He leaves before the meal, but gets lost in the house and stumbles upon Aurelie (Valentina Cervi), his host's beautiful niece, who is young enough to ignore convention and wild enough to like it.

Out of boredom, no doubt, she decides to seduce this nervous little man, who can't quite believe his good fortune.

The film juggles Didier's attempts to understand what is happening, with Juliette's fickle emotions and Aurelie's passionate appetite. It is a lesson in man's vanity and women's desire, with dazzling dialogue ("You look oblique." "It's my eyes") and farcical sexual combinations.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A lacklustre film critic has woman troubles.
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