André Dussollier clearly bears a strong resemblance to French Nobel Laureate
J.M.G. Le Clézio. Hopefully, the novelist also has a healthy sense of humor.
Otherwise, he might not appreciate the way his name is dropped in Arnaud &
Jean-Marie Larrieu’s 21 Nights with
here), which screens during the 2016 Rendezvous with French Cinema.
estranged from her hippy advocate mother, “Zaza,” Caroline Montez has come to
tend to the final arrangements. It turns out the locals in the southern village
absolutely adored the free-spirited intellectual, but they will not let her
passing stifle their summer festivities. Pattie, Zaza’s friend and pseudo-assistant,
tries to take Montez under her wing, telling the younger woman some
extraordinarily intimate and often comically graphic details about her sexual dealings
with the men of the district. This is supposed to loosen Montez up, but
initially it has quite the opposite effect. However, she is rather charmed by
an elderly gentleman who prefers to be simply known as “Jean,” whom she
presumes to be Le Clézio.
as soon as he arrives, her mother’s body disappears under mysterious
circumstances, which seems to distress Jean even more than her. The local
gendarme may have an explanation. He is convinced Zaza’s body was stolen by a
necrophiliac or a spurned lover, for unnatural purposes. In fact, a notorious
necrophiliac matching Jean’s description had been reported in neighboring
jurisdictions. That is all pretty troubling, but it is not enough to interrupt
the flow of summer wine.
the French could get away with a light rom com in which the practice of
necrophilia plays such a pivotal role. Frankly, nobody seems to be all that
shocked by the notion, except Montez. Leaving that aside, 21 Nights is a rather droll rom-com, with a devilish desire to
shock, but not disgust.
Viard is wonderfully earthy and animated as the oblivious Pattie, while Isabelle
Carré plays off her well enough as the repressed Montez. The crafty old veteran
Dussollier is indeed a good sport as the gentleman who is either Le Clézio or
an infamous pervert (presumably Montez and the gendarme cannot both be right).
Denis Lavant periodically pops up to deliver a few minutes of lunacy as André, the
village’s incomprehensible horndog. In contrast, Laurent Poitrenaux adds some
mature charm as the more-complex-than-he-initially-appears gendarme. Unfortunately,
Sergi López is largely wasted as Montez’s sexually frustrated Catalan husband.
You wouldn’t think it would fit the breezy
southern provincial ambience, but Nicolas Repac’s electronic blues soundtrack
really gives the film a distinctive vibe. The Larrieu brothers add a touch of
supernatural mysticism, but the pleasures of Pattie are mostly quite terrestrial in nature. It is all rather
amusing and really only slightly naughty, in a way Francophiles will
appreciate. Recommended as an indulgent confection, 21 Nights with Pattie screens at the Walter Reade this Friday
(3/11) and Saturday (3/12), as part of Rendezvous with French Cinema.
Labels: Andre Dussollier, French Cinema, Rendezvous with French Cinema '16