London Film Festival: French Riviera (L’Homme qu’on aimait trop)

Directed by André Téchiné
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Guillaume Canet and Adèle Haenel

by Joanna Orland

A sprawling and cluttered story, French Riviera is confused about what type of story it is trying to tell – Is it the story of a casino war?  A story of a conman?  A mob story?  A murder mystery?  A courtroom drama?  A story of a daughter wanting independence from her mother?  Without streamlining the many paths that this story takes, the audience is merely confused rather than entertained.  The fact that this story is based on real events of the Nice casino wars of the 1970’s is the film’s undoing.  The “based on a true story” warning on the screen at the start of the film is clearly used as a get out of jail free card to never quite sort out the story at the heart of the film.

The film’s only salvation is its wonderful performances by the three leads.  Catherine Deneuve never does any wrong and continues her streak as the matriarch of the story.  Guillame Canet is intriguing as Maurice.  The audience is never quite sure of his motives, for better or for worse.  The standout of this film is by far Adèle Haenel as daughter Agnès who is mesmerizing in every scene.  Her face is beautiful and expressive without being overtly revealing.  I may be in love.

Overall, the film is too rambling and unfocused to retain the audience’s attention or empathy.  If the director chose one angle to tell the story from and stuck to it, perhaps there would be something in there worth watching.  As it stands, this film is a mess and nevermind the audience, even the film itself doesn’t know what it’s about.

Leave a Reply