Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 7:34 pm 
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LOLITA CHAMMAH IN GABY BABY DOLL

Shaggy rustic French rom-com

In Sophie Letourneur's tongue-in-cheek sophomore effort as a director Gaby (Lolita Chammah) is a ditzy French version of Greta Gerwig (and this actress is just as prolific) whose shrink has lent her his big house in the country for a rest cure. She has trouble sleeping, and can't sleep alone. Her peculiarities and lack of interest in sex cause her boyfriend Vincent to depart after one night. She then starts picking up one man after another at the sparsely populated local cafe to keep her company. Her behavior causes her to be 86ed from the cafe and she goes for all that's left, invading the tiny cabin of the groundsman of the neighboring chateau, Nicolas (Benjamin Biolay), a grubby, hirsute loner who tolerates her, but takes no interest in her. A sort of companionship develops, which ends in romance.

Letourneur's style is minimal, rustic, classic. The natural-light photography brings out the colors of skin, fire in fireplaces, dawn, and leaves. No cell phones, TV. No plot, for that matter, or so it may seem. But what develops is like a shaggy dog story that has its own natural and logical rhythm. This is a film that, unlike many more complicated ones, does tell a story, a kind of fairy tale with a slutty Cinderella and a concealed Prince Charming.

Sophie Letourneur’s follow-up to 2012’s [url="http://www.filmleaf.net/showthread.php?3441-New-Directors-New-Films-and-Film-Comment-Selects-2013&p=29818#post29818"]Les coquillettes[/url] (New Directors/New Films.

Gaby Baby Doll, 88 mins., debuted at Vendome and Les Arcs. French theatrical release 17 Deeember 2014 to poor reviews, finding it "anemic" and "long, very long" (AlloCiné press rating 2.8); but, notably, Cahiers du Cinéma, Les Inrockuptibles, and Le Monde -- important voices in the Paris cinema world -- loved it. The Les Inrocks critic calls Letourneur "the most Asian of young French filmmakers," referring to her noncommittal, Zen simplicity. Screened for this review as part of the FSLC/uniFrance-sponsored Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at the Walter Reade Theater and the IFC Center in New York in March 2015, its North American premiere.

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