Changing Times

Changing Times


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Good ensemble movies are tricky to pull off. When they work (Traffic, Friends With Money) you get a sense of the whole, despite multi-faceted storylines. When they don't, you get something like this.

Here, the times are changing and so is the plot. In fact, you can expect a mood swing every five minutes, in a story so muddled even the strong cast, including Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve, can't save it.

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Depardieu is Antoine, an engineer who comes to Tangiers to seek a love lost 30 years ago, called Cecile - Deneuve plays her in a manner that can only be described as "menopausal". Her son Sami (Malik Zidi), whom she suspects is gay, has turned up on her doorstep with his (possibly) sick girlfriend Nadia (Lubna Azabal) and her young child. Also, Cecile's husband Natan (Gilbert Melki) is hitting the bottle once too often.

Even if co-writer/director Andre Techine had left things there, this would have been muddled at best. Not content with confusing everyone, he slings some witchcraft and socio-political comment about asylum seekers into the mix. The result is a recipe for disaster.

While Depardieu puts in a lovely performance as the unrequited lover who will do anything to win the heart of his dream girl, he's fighting the script every step of the way. One minute he's meandering round a building site, being subjected to over-stylised direction, the next he's seeking supernatural help to win Cecile's heart. It's almost impossible to work out which is supposed to be the script's main strand and the directorial chopping and changing exacerbates the problem.

There is a complete lack of focus. Plotline after plotline is set up and then left to wither without clear direction. Also, nothing is adequately explained. Why is Sami's girlfriend obsessed with seeing her twin? Why did Antoine and Cecile split up in the first place? Why does Natan try to strike up a relationship with Nadia's twin? And, more importantly, why was I still watching after an hour?

I wish I knew.

Reviewed on: 01 Mar 2006
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After 30 years, an engineer comes to Tangiers to find his lost love
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Director: Andre Techine

Writer: Andre Techine, Laurent Guyot, Pascal Bonitzer

Starring: Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Gilbert Melki, Malik Zidi, Lubna Azabal

Year: 2004

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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