Tomake another Short Cuts without the spirit of Raymond Carver and the touch of Robert Altman isjust too much of a challenge for this darkly handsome but overlong,melodramatic and ultimately tedious Cannes competition effort, which pretendsto discuss the mystery of human nature, using an anonymous provincial town onthe Atlantic coast for its background.
Lookingat six men in search of themselves and a boy who is supposed to stand for the deepdown decency each one of them has lost in his own way,
SelonCharlie has sufficient star power to find its niche in theFrench-speaking market or sympathisers of the French cinema, but to go anyfurther than that, it would first have to go through a significant pruningprocess, to lend it more of a punch.
Carefullyavoiding to name any specific location for the city in which it takes place, ifonly because the reference to local politics might have complicated matters,the script follows the city's mayor (Bacri), a scientist (Pineau) visiting hishometown for a seminar on the prehistoric man, a thief on parole (Poelvoorde)living with his ailing mother, a school teacher (Magimel) with a mysteriouspast, a promising athlete (Valois) going through a crisis and a swimming poolmaster (Lindon) who cheats on his wife and uses his 11-year-old son (Martin)into the web of lies he draws around him.
Somehow,the respective paths of these characters crisscross each other, but they allseem bent on following the same pattern, which means that they first have tocome to terms with their own selves, before advancing in any direction.
Themayor, a sort of crude provincial politician but not without charm, sleeps witha much younger woman whenever he can steal the time away from his other duties;the haughty anthropologist looks down on everyone else but turns a blind eye onthe chip he has on his own shoulder; the small time thief is a dedicated sonbut a hopeless criminal; the meek school teacher hides a terrible secret whichdestroys his own family life,; the athlete cannot take any longer the despotictraining regime which turns him into a machine and seeks the company of peoplehis own age, while the swimming pool master seems to be congenially opposed tomonogamy, trying to escape its chains at any risk whatsoever.
As forthe women in their lives, whether wives, lovers or mothers, they are just partof the background.
Tomake out of all this some kind of meaningful statement, the script shoulddisplay a constant interest in the significance of life's details and aprofound sympathy for one's heroes and villains alike, instead of resorting toa number of grandstand cliches and adopting a judgmental attitude, as it doeshere.
Noneof the characters in this film is given more than a sketchy frame, and none ofthese sketches is really expanded in the course of the picture.
Thisalso explains why there is so little tension generated by the variousrelationships, for they could go into any other direction without the audiencecaring much about it
France. 2006. 130 mins
Les Productions du Tresor
Jacques Fieschi, Frederic Belier-Garcia,Nicole Garcia
Vincent Lindon, Benoit Magimel, BenoitPoelvoorde, Patrick Pineau, Aranud Valois, Ferdinand Martin, Mynna Hapkyla,Sophie Cattali