AVENUE MONTAIGNE (ORCHESTRA SEATS) (Danièle Thompson). 100 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (April 20). For venues and times, see Movies, page 113. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
A small-town ingenue (High Tension's Cécile De France) arrives penniless in Paris, and her life changes when she becomes a waiter at a brasserie in a chi-chi neighbourhood frequented by a bunch of temperamental arts types.
These gentle caricatures include a neurotic soap opera star who wants to be taken seriously (Valérie Lemercier), a concert pianist who wants to give up his career and, possibly, his wife (Albert Dupontel), and an aging art collector who's selling off all his treasures (Claude Brasseur).
That' s the simple premise of this wildly implausible but irresistible French comedy, a sort of Amélie-meets-Grand Hotel. Naturally, the ingenue directly influences all of their lives, and we walk away with the fantasy that the rich and famous are just like the rest of us. Incroyable, I know.
Some of the dialogue is pretty clever, and the actors look like they're having fun, especially Lemercier, who won a César (France' s Academy Award) as the neurotic, sleep-deprived star who's trying to convince an American director (played by real-life director Sydney Pollack) that she can play Simone de Beauvoir.