The Girl from Monaco (La Fille de Monaco) 2008

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Directed by Anne Fontaine, from a screenplay by Fontaine and Benoît Graffin, The Girl from Monaco suffers from an identity crisis. It could have been a great romantic comedy on the back of the masterful performance by Fabrice Luchini, playing the part of professionally successful but personally hapless attorney Bertrand Beauvois. Parisian Beauvois takes a high profile murder case in the principality of Monaco, only to land in the crosshairs of ambitious weathergirl Audrey Varella, played by the lovely and perhaps talented Louise Bourgoin. I say perhaps because the only role in this film with more than one dimension to it went to Luchini. It’s hard to see an actor’s range when they aren’t given more than one or two emotions to portray, and Bourgoin is reduced to giggling and pouting her way throughout the film. Audrey sees stardom in her future, and Beauvois is the rocket ship on which she’ll arrive. Coming between the two is the bodyguard Christophe Abadi (Roschdy Zem, who is only allowed to scowl in the film), hired by the family of the widowed accused murderer to protect Beauvois from the Russian mafia.

I mentioned that this film would have made a fine romantic comedy only because that is the direction it was heading in the first act of the movie. In subsequent acts it also had the potential to be a drama or a courtroom thriller, but it seems that Fontaine reached a bit too far and went for all three. It could be that the mistakes were made in the editing room by Maryline Monthieux (whoever edited the televised version of French Kiss hacked it up so badly that Kevin Kline’s character went from being a romantic to a rapist), but with Fontaine’s role as director and screenwriter the final responsibility for this movie must rest on her shoulders.

The Girl from Monaco has its charms. The location shots were beautiful, the pacing of the film was superb, and the casting was dead on. My biggest overall problem with this movie was that it ended on such a false note. Luchini’s performance was wonderfully nuanced and elevated the material, but as the closing credits rolled I felt disappointment and a little sadness for the film that could have been.

DVD Details
• Actors: Fabrice Luchini, Roschdy Zem, Louise Bourgoin
• Directors: Anne Fontaine
• Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
• Language: French
• Subtitles: English, Spanish
• Region: Region 1 U.S. and Canada only.
• Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
• Number of discs: 1
• Rated: R (Restricted)

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