Avenue Montaigne Reviews
[font=Century Gothic]"Avenue Montaigne" is a tiresome and uninspired movie set in the art world about a group of people who are making transititions in their lives. Odd as it may sound, Sydney Pollack gives an unconvincing performance as a film director. The movie only looks at art through the prism of fame and money, not talent, promulgating a class system where the unlucky majority is meant to serve the lucky few. Despite that, the movie does have a sound premise which could have worked if it had not been stated out loud in the opening minutes and if more emphasis had been on the rehearsals and less on the soap opera, especially if Jessica had just been relegated to the background, not the foreground.(Even then, she is only confined to one small part of a very large city which is portrayed only in picture postcard cliches.) [/font]
A wonderfully thought provoking line from the character of the older, affluent man auctioning away all his collections.
This is an interesting movie that looks at lives of fascinating people when they aren't being fascinating.
What's the life of a virtuoso pianist or an actress dreaming of being Jean Beauvoir?
The dialogue is classic French whim. And although a bit cliche, I found the characters likeable. I especially found much depth in the relationship of the pianist and his wife/manager/accountant/agent/etc.etc.
His acting of the pianist was quite good. It really looked as if he were playing Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto.
It dragged towards the end, but the character development made the ending special when we see these ordinary people doing their "extraordinary jobs" in the wonderful simultaneous collage of a piano concerto, stage play, and auction.
Now, this movie really can be separated by subplots. While it focuses on Cecile De France's character, (her name is De France! How weird is that?!) some of the more interesting stories come from the artists she meets. The most interesting was the character of the classical pianist. I have never thought in terms of an artist hating his position and the way society views his talent. It was really a treat to watch his struggle and seeing how he balances his personal feelings with his relationship with his wife.
I have to restate. This movie is just cute. It is really an innocent film with some funny, if not slightly forced, character choices. I do not understand how I am supposed to feel about certian characters, but at the end of the movie, I felt fairly pleased and upbeat.
The film revolves around Jessica (Cecilé de France), an optimistic young woman who moves to Paris from the small town of Mâcon, hoping to get a fresh start. While the first few days are hard for her (she doesn't manage to find a place to live or a job), she eventually gets a job at a stylish café. Because her new job is in the heart of an artistic community, through her job she meets a handful of people that are going through big changes in their lives.
There's Jean-François (Albert Dupontel), a celebrated concert pianist who wants nothing more than to quit big, classical music concerts; there's aging actress Catherine (Valérie Lemercier), who's stuck doing a soap opera and a limiting play when she wants to be a film actress; and then there's Jacques (Claude Brasseur), an art collector that's dying while also trying to reconnect with his son (Christopher Thompson). By the end, everything is resolved, and it makes us feel happy that everything works out.
The cast of "Avenue Montaigne" seems to be having a good time-- whether or not their character is shallow or nice, everyone gives it their all with a lot of pay off. If we didn't have a cast as dedicated and charismatic as this one, would the film be the same? I don't think so. But it's a delight to watch everyone bustling around, just figuring out life; and while this could be boring, none of the stories every sag. In films with multiple stories like this one, there always should be one that isn't as good as the other ... but that isn't the case here. All of them are equally entertaining and fun, and it's great how something so good-natured and sweet can be predictable without being cloying.
Much of it is enjoyable; I loved seeing the goofy, slight bonkers but old Claudie (Dani) lip-synch to old French songs while reliving her past, and when Catherine defies her play director and changes the play she's starring in into the way she wants to-- on opening night. But there are also quite a few poetic moments, as when Jessica stands with melancholy in the rain, looking into the atmosphere, or when Jean-François plays the piano for a group of sickly hospital patients. "Avenue Montaigne" hits the combination of dramatic and funny perfectly, to the point where it's sincere and quite touching.
The key to the film though, is France. Though there are certainly a few standouts here, especially Lemercier, France carries the movie. I've always really liked her-- her pixie hair, crooked smile and curious eyes make her an intriguing beauty, and she maintains to be lovable in nearly all her films. This one shows her at her best. Her spirited and likable characterization of Jessica serves not only as a connector to all of the stories involved, but as the most winning part of the film.
"Avenue Montaigne" may be fluffy, but it's good fluff. It's never sappy; it moves along with energy and slight wit that amuse us more than it should.