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Montana Blues

No matter how low some pics sink, there's always one that manages to plumb new depths. Jean-Pierre Bisson, helmer and ham of "Montana Blues," may take this as a compliment, given the boozy ennui he attempts to convey. But a tumbler of pseudo-Bukowski behavior and a splash of Tom Waits-like warbling make "Montana Blues" an insipid cocktail likely to go to video and no further.

No matter how low some pics sink, there’s always one that manages to plumb new depths. Jean-Pierre Bisson, helmer and ham of “Montana Blues,” may take this as a compliment, given the boozy ennui he attempts to convey. But a tumbler of pseudo-Bukowski behavior and a splash of Tom Waits-like warbling make “Montana Blues” an insipid cocktail likely to go to video and no further.

Bisson, a gifted stage director respected in Paris theater circles, seems out of his element in film. Relentlessly static shots — in what is supposed to be partly a road movie — and a stubborn reliance on fairly obvious wordplay are the hallmarks of this failed attempt at celluloid profundity.

Tom (Bisson), a middle-aged Parisian drunk with a dramatic flair, instructs Theo (Frank Nicotra), his Sancho Panchez of bingeing, at tedious length about how to approach women, life and the profession of acting. When Tom falls for Theo’s wife, Stella (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), he is comforted to learn that she has a look-alike sister living in Marseille.

Tom goes south and finds Sara (Garance Clavel), a lissome thing two decades his junior, then brings her back to Paris, where his rounds of rowdy carousing resume. At his local, a glitzy St. Germain jazz bar called the Montana, the two lovers sing their blues to an audience who must be at least as puzzled as those in the theater.

Tech credits are adequate, but nothing can hide the hollowness at pic’s core. As a compendium of cliches that a middle-aged French rebel might harbor about the good life, pic sustains mild sociological interest.

Montana Blues

(FRENCH)

Production: A Films de l'Atalante release (in France) of a Films de l'Atalante production. Produced by Irene Sohm. Directed, written by Jean-Pierre Bisson.

Crew: Camera (color), Guillaume Schiffman; editor, Nicole Lubtchansky; music, Jean-Marie Senia; sound, Guillaume Sciama. Reviewed at Paris Film Festival, June 15, 1995. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: Jean-Pierre Bisson, Garance Clavel, Frank Nicotra, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Jeanne Marine, Serge Merlin, Gerry Beckles, Jean-Pierre Beauredon, Marco Bisson.

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