Orchestra Seats (12A)

Directed by Danièle Thompson, Written by Danièle Thompson and Christopher Thompson
Screening at FACT (30th March - 3rd April 2007)

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This film, directed by Danièle Thompson, is frothy and lightweight but nevertheless it does possess a lot of Gallic charm.

It is based around three major events taking place in a bourgeois area of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. Involved in all three happenings is a new arrival to the capital, Jessica (Cecile De France), who has moved from Macon, where she lived with her dotty grandmother, and now works in a cafe, frequented by a lot of arty types, located across the road from the theatre.

She meets up with a concert pianist Jean-Francois Lefort (Albert Dupontel) - who is ready to quit and retire to the country - a prima donna actress-cum-soap star Catherine Versen (Valerie Lemercier), who is desperate to play the part of Simone De Beauvoir in a new film biopic, and a wily elderly guy, Jacques Grumberg (Claude Brasseur), who is preparing to sell off his expensive art collection.

During one night, when Lefort is playing, Versen is acting and Grumberg is attending his auction, all their aspirations or otherwise, come to a head.

The acting by all is top drawer, it has a lot of comic moments, and the photography is engaging, notably the night shots of the illuminated tower, but it is rather old-fashioned, even the soundtrack music is evocative of
French cafe music from the 1960s and 1970s. But that is not such a bad thing.

I must admit, after reviewing a lot of films in recent weeks - including blood splattered action movies with heaps of CGI technology - I did enjoy its gentle and humanistic style. Guess I am a romantic at heart!

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