The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Looking For Hortense | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Looking For Hortense

A put-upon husband struggles to fulfill a request from his wife.

Directed by: Pascal Bonitzer
Starring: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Kristin Scott Thomas, Isabelle Carre, Claude Rich

Damien (Bacri) lectures on Asian culture to French business types looking to gain an advantage in cracking that burgeoning market. His partner, Iva (Thomas), is a theater director in the midst of conducting an affair with her latest production's leading man. When Iva asks Damien to speak to his father (Rich), a judge, about repealing an expulsion order for a friend of her brother, Damien agrees reluctantly. Estranged from his father, fulfilling Iva's request becomes increasingly difficult for Damien, who in the process befriends Aurore (Carre), a young woman who works in a restaurant next door to a bookshop he frequents.
The basic set-up of Bonitzer's film is reminiscent of the type of scenario Larry David might spin for an episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'. Stretched out to 100 minutes, however, this simple idea quickly becomes a test of patience, particularly given the poor, dated comedy on show. Bonitzer appears completely out of touch with modern society, mining jokes from topics like homosexuality and immigration as if he were a staff writer on a seventies British sitcom. A scene where Damien wakes up after a night of heavy (or, rather, heavy by French standards) drinking with a young gay Japanese waiter in his bed scales new heights of misjudgement.
Had he gone for a straight drama, instead of opting for cheap laughs, Bonitzer could have given us an intriguing film. Bacri is great as the put-upon Damien, as is Thomas, albeit short-changed in her role. The female characters in this film are all woefully written (and all seem to suffer from a nicotine addiction). Iva is the stereotypical cheating wife while Aurore is little more than a young damsel in distress, inexplicably waiting for an aging, out of shape knight like Damien to save her. Despite resembling an alcoholic butcher, Damien is apparently irresistible to young women, and indeed young men.
Perhaps the title 'Oh Grandad! The Movie' would be better fitting for the out of touch Bonitzer's latest? 

Eric Hillis