Wednesday, May 09, 2007

BROKEN ENGLISH and Zoe Cassavetes' directorial debut

Parker Posey, in her second SFIFF film (Fay Grim, from director Hal Hartley, being the other) and Melvil Poupaud form a cross-Atlantic indie film dream team in Zoe Cassavetes’ directorial debut, a sparkling romantic comedy for latent depressives and the chronically lovelorn. Posey stars as Nora, a very Parker Posey–like young woman who’s actually, gulp!, 35ish and still single. Reminded by her kindhearted though thoughtless mother (the magnificent Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes’ real-life mom) that "the good ones are snapped up by your age," Nora is further sent into depression by the "perfect marriage" of her best friend, Audrey (Drea de Matteo of The Sopranos). Vowing to start dating, she embarks on a string of disastrous encounters with disastrous men until she meets Julian, an attentive, handsome Frenchman (Melvil Poupaud, a frequent Raoul Ruiz collaborator and star of Fran├žois Ozon’s Time to Leave). Too bad he’s leaving for France soon; too bad Nora can’t remember his last name when he does. After all, there are quite a few Julians in Paris, and she might just have to track each of them down to find him. Whether their spark can turn into a flame is one question; whether it can survive Nora’s scattered thought process is yet another. Recharging the rom-com genre with a joltingly millennial, post-Xanax outlook and the fast-paced verve of ’30s screwball classics, Cassavetes keeps things moving briskly, able to balance the demands of the genre with a few serious comments on depression, loneliness, and urban disconnections. She elicits delightful performances from Posey and Poupaud, both of whom radiate intelligence, humor and charm.—Pam GradyWest Coast Premiere. Sponsored by the Clift Hotel and http://www.radioalice.com/.

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