The film Ça Tourne à Saint Pierre & Miquelon (Fishy Business in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon), directed by Christian Monnier, starts out with some overplayed comic moments that are disquietingly close to the broad comedy of the kind that elicits groans when French cinema is mentioned. Happily, things soon calm down as the movie advances.
The story revolves around Céline (Céline Mauge), a 30-something Parisian actor and singer who is having trouble getting gigs and is starting to consider Botox and other cosmetic improvements to stay in the game.
She is thrilled when she suddenly lands the leading role in a new movie by Milan Zodowski (Philippe Rebbot), a supposed genius, famous for making films that mingle fiction with reality but who has not worked for decades owing to his overdependence on alcohol and drugs.
Without thinking twice and before even seeing a script, Céline flies off to Saint Pierre & Miquelon, two little specks of islands in the Atlantic Ocean near Newfoundland that are French territories, where the film is to be shot.
She is met by the location manager, Adèle (Adèle Lebon), who takes her to the isolated house the two women are to share with the sound man, Keanu (Jules Sitruk), a gentle, slightly nerdy soul who finds his joy in nature. There is no sign of the rest of the film crew.
Céline would like to know where Zodowski is. It turns out that he is locked up in a cabin on the property and refuses to be disturbed.
As the days wear on and there is still no sign of Zodowski, Céline becomes more and more infuriated with the director and develops an itchy skin syndrome, even as she starts to become friends with Adèle and Keanu and to give in a bit to the beauty of the islands’ landscapes, which are alone worth the price of the film.
By snooping around, Céline gradually realizes that, true to his reputation, Zodowski is creating a film that mixes fiction and reality. She is shocked to discover that – spoiler coming here – the reality is hers: the director has had a private detective investigating her life and is using it as the basis of his film. I won’t say any more for fear of giving too much away. I’ll just say that this film, too, mixes fiction with reality, as Céline Mauge, like her character in the film, is a well-known singer, whose second album, The Transformation Place, came out a year ago.
Aside from a few missteps, as mentioned at the beginning of this review, Ça Tourne à Saint Pierre & Miquelon is thoroughly enjoyable and original in the way it unfurls its unusual story and presents its gentle, humane humor and beautiful scenery.
Rather than falling into cliché, the film constantly confounds our expectations, and, refreshingly, does not rely on a love story to provide passion and create interest. In fact, there is no love story – or even any sex. Now that’s original!Favorite