PARIS–“I.P.5,” Jean-Jacques Beineix’s fifth film and Yves Montand’s last, mixes trendy elements with old-fashioned sentiment. Beautifully shot but conceptually uneven road movie about three male characters in search of love seems certain to appeal to young moviegoers. Pic is also likely to attract fans of all ages curious about the late Montand’s touching final performance as a man whose days are numbered. World preem took place over the weekend at the Seattle Film Festival in advance of French launch this week.
Traces of rap music (including a clever song composed by Beineix), some graffiti art, a few well-placed references to ecology and a devil-may-care approach to expedient theft are grafted on to the trusty if mundane theme that a life without love is incomplete.
With his resilient young buddy Jockey (Sekkou Sall) in tow, self-satisfied but emotionally hollow graffiti artist Tony (Olivier Martinez) sets off from the Paris suburbs on a mission to Grenoble forced upon him by local toughs.
Tony abruptly decides to abandon his task and detours to Toulouse in search of a beautiful young nurse whom he hardly knows but has fallen in love with.
The protagonists are skillfully established as likable urbanites. But 20 minutes into the story, the pair becomes substantially less lovable when Tony viciously assaults a man in order to steal his car keys.
The duo repeatedly steal cars with impunity, and even a severe crash has no lasting negative consequences.
Via the film’s logic, these lapses in conduct are made up for when the two youths eventually befriend elderly Montand, who was a passenger in one stolen vehicle.
Montand projects charm and dignity as a man who is keenly in touch with nature and determined to find once again “the island of pachyderms”–site of a memorable episode in his youth–before succumbing to a chronic heart condition. The late entertainer is never ridiculous, although his character strips to his underwear and embraces trees.
Despite characters’ sometimes vague motivations, helmer secures fine performances all around. Sad scene between Montand and a woman from his past is movingly handled, as is hospital scene in which always-bubbly Jockey breaks down and reveals his fears and troubles to ailing Montand.
Major revelation is adorable 11-year-old Sekkou Sall, a scrawny wide-eyed imp of Senegalese descent with promising range.
Friendship between black youngster and slightly older white graffiti artist is utterly believable, but their relationship with Montand makes far less sense.
Wide-screen lensing lavishes special attention on the colors of nature. Pic is peppered with striking visuals, including a luminous forest downpour and a stroll across a sunlit field of harvested wheat.
Although “I.P.5” has practically none of the slam-bang action of “Diva,” it forgoes the surreal excess of “The Moon in the Gutter” and its love story between Tony and nurse is a nursery rhyme compared with the carnal couple in “Betty Blue,” the theme of doggedly pursuing one’s dreams– which fell flat in “Roselyne and the Lions”–works better here.
“I.P.” is apparently an abbreviation for “Island of Pachyderms”; “5” indicates Beineix’s fifth feature.