Written and directed by Claude Lelouch. With Dominique Pinon, Fanny Ardant and Audrey Dana. Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. In French with subtitles. Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. 1 hour, 43 mins.
R (profanity, sexual content)
Playing at: Ritz Five.
Moviegoers of a certain generation think fondly of director Claude Lelouch, the luxury brand of French film. His is a cinema that came of age with James Bond, movies about jet-setters, race-car drivers, enigmatic beauties, the finest Burgundies, and espresso with three lumps of sugar.
Roman de Gare, his latest, translates as "railway novel," a pop fiction of the type one buys at the train station.
It's vintage Lelouch, a cinematic page-turner racing from chic winery to hardscrabble farm to sleek yacht on the Mediterranean. The framing device is a police investigation of an imperious and impossibly chic murder-mystery writer, Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardant), a person of interest in two homicides. Is she a serial killer, or are her books an inspiration to one?
Lelouch, like Spielberg a virtuoso in propelling his films by staging sequences inside zooming vehicles, jumps among three parallel stories. The viewer does not know whether these disparate narratives will intersect - or collide head-on.
The structure of Lelouch's pedal-to-the-metal story commands attention and suspense. The three principals are enormously engaging, and Gérard de Battista's succulent cinematography creates the sense of actually being there.
- Carrie Rickey