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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

ELLE S’EN VA / ON MY WAY (2013)

Looking blowsy & real at 70, Catherine Deneuve has triumphantly de-botoxed to play a 60-ish widow who suddenly drops out on her own overly complicated life in the middle of lunch service at the rural auberge she runs with her mother. Morphing from a late mid-life crisis tale to a road pic, it’s a kick just to see a woman take the lead in this sort of thing for a change. Deneuve’s messy life comes to a head as her mom’s restaurant slowly sinks into default, her long time lover finally leaves his wife . . . but not for her, and just as her estranged pain-in-the-neck daughter calls for emergency help with her son. Writer/director Emmanuelle Bercot tries for a Janus-faced response that has Deneuve both running away and running into her life, tripping over unlikely adventures and a new purpose with every wrong turn. Filmed in an interesting (unintentional?) manner that lets her scenes run a little too long or a little too short before coming up with sweet-natured surprises from unexpected sources: a pick up from a guy half her age in a bar; a lonely, uncomfortably aging farmer who does his bit to assuage her renewed nicotine addiction. Character-driven scenes as blissed-out and non-judgmental as early Jonathan Demme. But the film isn’t always at its best; and Bercot seems aware of it, pushing too hard just when she needs to ease off. It keeps easy scenes, like the growing relationship between Deneuve & her grandkid (she barely knows him; he’s acting out) from fully connecting, largely thru a lack of trust in her audience. The film is missing the missing pieces we should be filling in for ourselves.

DOUBLE-BILL: Nobody talks about Paul Mazursky’s HARRY AND TONTO/’74 anymore, but it remains a special treat with a retired Art Carney (and cat) finding adventure as they head West.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Why Oscar® hasn’t given Deneuve a lifetime achievement award (or two or three) is something of a mystery. (Same for Max von Sydow.)

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