Review: ‘Les Gens Normaux N’Ont Rien D’Exceptionnel’

Also with: Frederic Diefenthal, Sandrine Kiberlain, Marianne Groves, Michel Bos.

Also with: Frederic Diefenthal, Sandrine Kiberlain, Marianne Groves, Michel Bos.

“There’s Nothing Special About Normal People” is a quirky, enjoyable portrait of a flake who plays matchmaker during her 10-day stay in a psychiatric ward peopled by memorable misfits. Debut pic by Laurence Ferreira Barbosa marks helmer as a talent to watch.

Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi glows in a nicely nuanced perf as Martine, a 25 -year-old telephone sales employee who can’t get a grip on things since being dumped by her boyfriend of three years. Often told she should “have her head examined,” Martine bluntly demands explanations where others would let matters slide.

After confronting her b.f., who curtly says that he no longer loves her, Martine smashes her head against a glass door and, contracting amnesia, winds up in a psychiatric ward.

There, she creates a whirlwind of unsolicited activity, mostly centered on getting dysfunctional lovebirds together.

Character’s energetic and naive penchant for organizing other people’s lives is both wacky and endearing. Pic is a series of offbeat moments, some tender and some literally out-to-lunch, such as the misfits’ picnic Martine assembles by hijacking players from two institutions.

Thesps on both sides of the sanity curve are exemplary. Blend of handheld and traditional camerawork suits the episodic, intimate tale. Production design neatly captures the essence of urban indifference and the scruffy, utilitarian atmosphere of working-class apartments and haunts.

LEGIT

OFF BROADWAY

Les Gens Normaux N'Ont Rien D'Exceptionnel

(FRENCH)

Production

A Pierre Grise Distribution release of a Gemini Films/BC Films/BVF production , with participation of CNC and Canal Plus. Produced by Paulo Branco. Executive producer, Monod. Directed by Laurence Ferreira Barbosa. Screenplay, Ferreira Barbosa, Santiago Amigorena, Berroyer, Cedric Kahn.

Crew

Camera (color), Antoine Heberle; editor, Emmanuelle Castro; music, Cesaria Evora, Cuco Valoy, Melvil Poupaud; set design, Brigitte Perreau; costume design, Francois Clavel; sound, Francois Waledisch, Jacques Thomas-Gerard. Reviewed at Gaumont Hautefeuille Cinema, Paris, Dec. 25, 1993. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Martine ... Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi German ... Melvil Poupaud Pierre ... Marc Citti Anne ... Claire Laroche Francois ... Serge Hazanavicius Mr. Jacquet ... Barroyer
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