Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2024 8:13 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2003 1:50 pm
Posts: 4897
Location: California/NYC

Woody gets lucky in French

The Draconian moves to penalize Woody Allen, against whom nothing has been proven, have lightened up a bit now that at least his new film has gotten a theatrical release in the US along with availability "on demand." And those who get to see it in theaters are lucky because it's a good looking film, set in a glamorous upper-bourgeois Paris. And surprisingly enough, it's in French! Since Woody has always made ample use of the ensemble-effort aspect of filmmaking, he has realized he doesn't even have to understand exactly what his actors are saying. He's just moving them around - remember Hitchcock said they are "like cattle" - and the movements speak volumes in this entertaining, clearly structured comedy-romance-crime-thriller, not as good or as complexly well-oiled as Match Point, but on that order, and therefore, despite some flaws, one of his best films in years.

There are those who are saying Coup de Chance ("Stroke of Luck") looks even more "undirected" than usual, but except for Melvil Poupaud, there are no wrong notes, and if you look at his performance in Valérie Donzelli's recent toxic relationship film Just the Two of Us / L'amour et les forêts (2023), you'll see Poupaud is just heavy-handed when he plays odious, controlling husbands; they're just too far from his sweet zone. Anyway, you can say that Jean, Poupaud's character, is clearly written as an overbearing, crudely adoring husband of the much younger Fanny (Lou de Laâge, who's 17 years younger). Right off he gives her an obtrusively expensive ring, and he seems to watch her so closely he's not so far from the toxically jealous husband in Donzelli's film.

No problem with de Laâge playing Fanny, a character who proves interesting and alive. In her second marriage, she seems happy. She's spoken of, and fears being seen as, a "trophy wife," but she has a serious job in art auction sales. But when the handsome, tousled haired Alain (Niels Schneider), a long-ago classmate in New York, now a free-floating, childless, divorced writer, recognizes her and stops her on a Paris street, everything changes. He barely knew her years ago but was madly in love with her anyway. Soon she is taking quick lunch breaks with him from work, and when they have one in his breathtakingly posh chambre de bonne) (more a suite de bonne), they become lovers, as she confesses to her best work friend Julia (Sara Martins).

Enter Fanny's mother Camille (Valérie Lemercier), who comes for a visit and appeals to Jean because when they take a weekend at his vine-covered country spread, she likes joining him to hunt deer. She also likes lunching on pâté and Margaux. Which is not burgundy, by the way. Despite often spending a few days in Paris over the years, Woody admittedly knows little of French language or culture. His penchant for only showing people in the poshest locations is tiring, and his use of period jazz, mostly by Nat Adderly with the Modern Jazz Quartet, seems a bit loud and monotonous, but it evokes a wonderful Fifties film score, that of No Sun in Venice. Enter also some heavies, because Jean is just discreetly gangsterish and yes, when his partner disappeared without a trace years ago greatly to his advantage, there is good reason to be suspicious of who was behind it.

All this is borderline silly and tongue in cheek, and so is the finale after a private detective has been engaged by Jean, suspicious of Fanny's frequent lunch breaks and higher coloring, Alain has disappeared, and Camille has become suspicious. It's all luck, you see (Fanny even buys a lottery ticket), but some are luckier than others, and the "coup" in Coup de Chance begins to seem more like one of Tom Ripley's death blows with a heavy object. Just an amusement, this, with a titillating lethal edge. Its mechanisms and chains of events are rather simple and sometimes easily predicted, but amusement it is. It's nice that, in a reversal of fortune, the Anglophone critics are liking it better than the French ones, for a change.

Coup de Chance ("Stroke of Luck"), 93 mins., debuted at Venice Sept. 4, 2023, showing also at Athens and premiering in Lyons and Barcelona, opening in many countries Sept. 2023 to Jan. 2024. It opened theatrically in France Sept. 27 and in the US Apr. 5 2024 (internet Apr. 12). AlloCiné press rating 2.7, spectator rating 2.8 (56%). Metacritic rating: 64%.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 94 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group