Maura’s leading man, Michel Aumont (playing himself), is hours late in turning up for the shoot, bringing the already flaky crew perilously close to psychological meltdown. Maura, as a down-to-earth Spaniard muttering about French emotional constipation, allays their panic by telling them how she helped Ballon sell his script in the first place.
Pic alternates between Maura’s regal poise on the set and a series of wildly uneven flashbacks about Ballon’s years in pre-production limbo. The funniest by far concern a series of interviews he went through with prospective producers, each more philistine than the last. The least believable flashbacks deal with Ballon’s suicidal despair over not getting his project off the ground. Falling somewhere in between are the sequences showing Maura’s habit of bringing a home-made tortilla to business meetings to get her way.
Although Provost, a novelist and playwright, shows flair in quickly sketching character, especially with the hysteria-laden members of the crew, too often we get lost in the meanders of what must be private jokes and Parisian score-settling.
Fortunately, the perfs are engaging. Duret, as the insecure director, faithfully reproduces the tendency of young Parisian film fauna to combine unstoppable fluency with insufferable self-absorption. Maura, as a smiling ambassador from a less neurotic society, seems to have a great time playing herself. And Marina Tome’s producer is a truly funny emotional basket case in love with her good-looking son. But whenever Maura, Duret or Tome is out of the action, pic veers dangerously close to caricature.
Tech credits are adequate, given the low budget and an ill-conceived commitment to making the amateurish goings-on look equally hasty and amateurish onscreen.