DIR/WRI: Cédric Klapisch • PRO: Cédric Klapisch, Bruno Levy • ED: Anne-Sophie Bion • DOP: Natasha Braier • MUS: Christophe Minck • DES: Roshelle Berliner Marie Cheminal • CAST: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cécile De France
Chinese Puzzle is a quirky rom-com likely to warm the cockles of your heart.
Standing centre is Xavier (Romain Duris), a 40-year-old French writer forced to move to New York from Paris when his British wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly) moves their kids in with her new man.
The couple’s marriage hit the rocks when big-hearted Xavier agreed to donate sperm to his lesbian best buddy, Isabelle (Cecile De France), so she could become pregnant.
Conveniently, Isabelle has also moved to New York to be with her partner, Ju (Sandrine Holt), so Xavier has a place to stay.
Things are about to get even more complicated when Xavier’s ex, Martine (Audrey Tautou), flies over on a business trip, kicking the film into full romantic comedy mode.
This is the third film writer-director Cedric Klapisch has made with this good-looking bunch, following L’Auberge Espagnole (2002) and Russian Dolls (2005), and it doesn’t offer up anything remarkably different or deeper than the others.
The characters in Chinese Puzzle are flawed, but well-intentioned. The way they grapple with life like a bunch of teenagers is the source of most of the endearing comedy that runs through the film.
The film is also stylistically impressive. There are frequent digressions into fantasy – historic figures visit Xavier in his bedroom, glamour models come to life from the pages of a magazine.
Chinese Puzzle is light-hearted and charming, with a pretty conventional ‘all you need is love’ rom-com message at its core.
It is the film equivalent of a French pastry – fluffy and tasty but leaving you a little peckish for something with a bit more substance.
12A (See IFCO for details)
3 Days to Kill is released on 20th June 2014