No Particular Reason

April 22, 2008By Paris UpdateFilm

Passe-Passe, the title of this new movie directed by Tonie Marshall, means a conjuring trick or sleight of hand. Darry (Edouard Baer) is an out-of-work magician who for no particular reason steals his brother-in-law’s BMW. He then discovers Irène (Nathalie Baye), a wealthy bourgeoise, who for no particular reason is stranded in the middle of the countryside. They then embark, for no particular reason, on a series of adventures involving a French minister, Korean arms dealers, patients in a mental institution and anti-globalization protesters.

Clearly the director wanted to create a madcap American-style road movie. But what ensues is a film devoid of one single believable character or incident. All the acting is atrocious, even that of the usually faultless Baye. Even the extras are appallingly directed, and it is excruciating to watch the over-acting in almost every scene.
At one point, it must have been decided that some kind of romance or nubile flesh should be added to the action. The solution? Introduce an incredibly beautiful Tourette’s Syndrome sufferer, Sonia (Mélanie Bernier), who for no particular reason is in an institution for Alzheimer’s sufferers. That means that a touch of verbal comedy can be added by making her swear uncontrollably at various inopportune moments. But rest assured, dear spectator, Darry will cure her by shouting a string of obscenities back at her. Hilarious? Only my obligation as your reviewer kept me from running screaming from the cinema.

Those hoping to find redemption in sparkling dialogue will be disappointed but not surprised to learn that the screenplay is ponderous and lazy. In fact, the director seems most of the time more interested in product placements than meaningful plot or conversations.

In the spirit of fairness, I am trying desperately to find one good thing to say. Here’s one! I loved the ring-tone on Irène’s phone, the theme tune from the gloriously camp American sitcom of the 1960s and ’70s, “Bewitched.”

The best conjuring trick for this car-crash of a movie would be to make it disappear and never come back again.


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