Review: ‘A la Belle Etoile’

Adolescent amour gets a spirited but uneven once-over in "Under the Stars," a neatly packaged feature bow by 22-year-old Antoine Desrosieres. Director's gifts for physical comedy, coupled with those of energetic lead Mathieu Demy, are let down by excessive displays of cine-literacy, which make it all seem numbingly familiar. Still, pic makes a chirpy calling card, and a breezy entry for young cinema meets.

Adolescent amour gets a spirited but uneven once-over in “Under the Stars,” a neatly packaged feature bow by 22-year-old Antoine Desrosieres. Director’s gifts for physical comedy, coupled with those of energetic lead Mathieu Demy, are let down by excessive displays of cine-literacy, which make it all seem numbingly familiar. Still, pic makes a chirpy calling card, and a breezy entry for young cinema meets.

Demy plays a klutzy late-teenster who develops a crush on a perfect stranger (Aurelia Thierree). His dogged pursuit of her is aided by his best friend’s girl (Chiara Mastroianni) and obstructed by the unsolicited attentions of another girl (Camila Mora). Chaos reigns until an aspiring tightrope walker (Julie Gayet) shimmies onto the scene.

After its bouncy opening, pic gradually runs out of steam. Spontaneity and off-the-cuff humor give way to studied cuteness.

Desrosieres gets affable turns from the bright young cast. Gallic critic and filmmaker Luc Moullet appears as an art professor and, in a neat touch of black comedy, Desrosieres himself plays a class nerd who kills himself, allowing the cash-strapped Demy to re-work a funeral wreath into a floral gift for Thierree.

A la Belle Etoile

(FRENCH-SWISS)

Production

An FRP/La Vie Est Belle Films Associes/Groupe TSF (Paris)/PCT Pierre-Andre Thiebaud (Geneva) production, with the participation of Canal Plus. Produced by Frederic Robbes. Directed, written by Antoine Desrosieres. Camera (color), Georges Le Chaptois; editor, Catherine Bonetat; music, Bojan Zulfikarpasic, Julien Lourau; art direction, Cyr Boitard; sound, Marc Nouyrigat. Reviewed at Thessaloniki Film Festival (competing), Greece, Nov. 11, 1993. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Thomas ... Mathieu Demy Hannah ... Julie Gayet Marion ... Aurelia Thierree Claire ... Chiara Mastroianni Rebecca ... Camila Mora
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