Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

In Olivier Assayas's Irma Vep an ageing French auteur struggles to make a reintepretation of Feuillade's famous Les Vampires in the face of almost complete indifference. Its reworking of Truffaut's Day For Night was a nice idea, but sadly didn't come off.

I mention this because it strikes me that Roman Coppola's feature debut tells the same story - and to the same overall lack of effect - as it might have played out a quarter century earlier where there was still some lingering hope for revolution, in life and in cinema.

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In 1969 a young American in Paris, Paul, is trying to work out where his priorities in life and as a cineaste lie. He's got a shot at completing a low budget superspy B-movie, Dragonfly, after the original director was fired and his replacement suffered a car accident. But he's also working on an intimate, introspective diary film, that's supposed to reveal la verite - whatever that may be.

The best parts of CQ are the two films within the film. The fragments from Dragonfly are entertainingly arch and kitsch, benefitting from the expert hand of dad's favorite production designer, Dean Tavoularis, and knowingly evoking the world of sci-fi superspy thrillers like Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik. Similarly the fragments from Paul's personal project, full of meaningful, portenteous shots and jump cuts expertly evoke the world of the nouvelle vague and all that. (I presume those repeating shots of coffee cups were a nod to Godard's Two or Three Things I Know About her.)

Sadly the main story of Paul's struggle to maintain his idealism in the face of a changing world is pretty dull, uninspired stuff that lacks the entertainment value of the Bava B-movie (a quick plug for the incredible Kill Baby Kill here) or the intellectual stimulation of a Godard cine-tract.

Acting wise, Jeremy Davies delivers the only performance of note. Gerard Depardieu, Jason Schwartzman and Billy Zane are on auto-pilot mode in their small, to-type roles, while Elodie Bouchez reprises her angry girlfriend routine from The Lovers. Supermodel *cough* turned actress Angela Lindvall is adequate as eye candy but shouldn't give up the day job just yet.

Neither, on the evidence of this film, should Roman Coppola.

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2001
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Idealistic young film maker must decide where his loyalties lie as the 1970s approach.
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Director: Roman Coppola

Writer: Roman Coppola

Starring: Jeremy Davies, Angela Lindvall, Elodie Bouchez, Gerard Depardieu, Giancarlo Giannini, Massimo Ghini, Billy Zane, Jason Schwartzman, John Philip Law, Dean Stockwell

Year: 2001

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: USA/Luxembourg/France/Italy


EIFF 2001

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