Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ND/NF ’13: Les Coquillettes

It is like the women’s version of Entourage for the art-house set, except it is way more neurotic and uncomfortable.  A director will hit the festival party circuit hard with her man-hungry friends, in hopes of scoring with the leading lights of French cinema and occasionally even watching a movie.  The resulting in-jokiness does not travel much better than the high maintenance characters of Sophie Letourneur’s Les Coquillettes (trailer here), which screens during this year’s New Directors/New Films, co-presented by MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Sophie (no last names for the lead actresses’ namesakes) has a film at Locarno, but even she hardly seems interested.  Instead, hooking up with Louis Garrel (who barely seems to know of her existence) is her primary concern.  Likewise, Camille is preoccupied with the metrosexual Martin, whereas Carole is out to bag any man with a pulse (but preferably a certain uncharacteristically aloof Italian actor).  To console themselves, they periodically indulge in a spot of macaroni and cheese (the titular comfort food).  Much alcohol is also consumed and ugly scenes are held without advancing the story much beyond that.

Earning credit as good sports, Garrel and the director of Locarno briefly (particularly in the case of the former) appear as themselves, interacting (or not) with Sophie and her entourage.  Despite one awkward moment after another, the same people keep getting hammered with them, repeating the nightly cycle of embarrassment.  This might be true to life, but it is all quite maddening in Coquillettes.

Of the ensemble, Carole Le Page easily comes off the best, turning some pleasant scenes of Dolce Vita style sexuality.  Not that it matters, but Letourneur and cinematographer Antoine Parouty clearly were not playing to anyone’s vanity, apparently setting out to cast the cast (herself included) in as unflattering as light as possible.

Perhaps there are wickedly funny subtleties in Coquillettes lost on those who are not Locarno regulars.  It does not ring true for Sundance, though.  Sure, there are parties on top of parties in Park City, but everyone talks about the films, almost exclusively, rather than Sex in the City nothingness.  Still, it has the virtue of being relatively short, clocking in just shy of seventy-five minutes.  Except for viewers jonesing for a French mumblecorish chick flick, Les Cooquillettes can be safely skipped when it screens this coming Monday (3/25) at the Walter Reade and Tuesday (3/26) at MoMA.  For something completely different, adventurous viewers might consider checking out the existential absurdity of Emil Christov’s The Color of the Chameleon when it screens tomorrow (3/21) on FSLC’s turf and Saturday (3/23) cross town.