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Avenue Montaigne
DVD disk
Jul 19, 2007 By: Jason Adams
Avenue Montaigne order
Director:
Danièle Thompson

Actors:
Cécile De France
Valérie Lemercier
Albert Dupontel

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A young girl moves to Paris and gets a job as a waitress in a restaurant near several theatrical and musical venues. As she tries to make ends meet, she mingles with a variety of famous musicians, actors and socialites, each of whom have their own issues to deal with.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
If I had to describe AVENUE MONTAIGNE I suppose I would use the word “cute” and maybe throw in the geographical adjective “French.” It’s definitely a film that’s in love with its setting and derives its mood and look from the city of Paris. It’s also hard not to make comparisons to AMÉLIE, another French film featuring a waitress interacting with various interesting characters, although AVENUE does not share the same whimsical tone and fantastical elements. It might not be fair to have expected the same “fun” vibe as AMÉLIE, but, darn it, I did. And AVENUE is much more serious and straightforward a movie.

The DVD cover has the word “Altman” plastered all over it and I can definitely see a similarity to SHORT CUTS with the interconnected stories. There’s four or five vignettes with various plots (if you can call them that), some more interesting than others. Most of the film is just people sitting around and talking, so if you’re looking for something a little more “action” oriented, AVENUE MONTAIGNE is probably not for you. I liked the subplot with the struggling actress, mostly because Sydney Pollack has a nice extended cameo, and at times the whole thing has an amusing “meta” feel with regards to the French entertainment industry. (When they name-dropped Monica Bellucci I had false hope that she would make a cameo and add two stars to the film’s score.) The plot with the pianist was okay (dude can play the hell out of a piano), but the whole father-son-stepmother story felt really stale.

Cécile De France, a far cry from her role in HAUTE TENSION, plays the main waitress character and she’s sweet and cute and a nice base character to build the rest of the story around. Unfortunately with everything else going on around her, she gets the short end of the stick; Jessica is there to observe everyone and connect their individual threads, but at the cost of her own story. Her entire character arc is described in the opening narration and the film loses some major opportunities as a result. Still, everything comes together rather nicely in the end, but after it was all said and done, nothing about AVENUE MONTAIGNE made much of an impact on me.
THE EXTRAS
The Making of Avenue Montaigne (26:14): A nice little documentary comprised entirely of behind the scenes footage from the shoot.

A Theatrical Trailer and a Trailer Gallery.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
AVENUE MONTAIGNE is a decent lighthearted drama. That might not sound like much of a critique, but I didn’t really feel too strongly about the movie either way. If you like French cinema, you’ll probably get a minor kick out of it. I’ll personally just watch AMELIE again. (Mmmmm…Audrey Tatou.)

Extra Tidbit: Director Danièle Thompson wrote the movie with her son Christopher.
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