(French and English dialogue)

(French and English dialogue)

Paris-based American helmer-actor Arnold Barkus shows a taste for staging off-kilter gags with sometimes surreal punch lines throughout “Tempest (in a Tea Pot),” a valiant cross-cultural enterprise that won’t be the general public’s cup of cha. Pic will be of interest to folks determined to take in the filmography of featured players Jackie Berroyer and Maria de Medeiros, but entertains only in fits and starts. Uneven, sometimes funny venture is a fine candidate for latenight Euro-tube programming.

When Brooklyn-born Francophile Max (Barkus) discovers he’s been cuckolded, his best friend, schleppy Frenchman Jean (Berroyer), comes to the rescue. Max is convinced his sweetie, Sophia, has exercised the seven-year-itch with another fellow, but he still leases a snazzy new apartment in Manhattan to share with her. Determined to show Max how perfidious women can be, Jean hatches an ambitious scheme with a flighty young woman named Vita (de Medeiros) to tarnish Sophia’s reputation.

The fact that we never once see Sophia makes the proceedings all the more mysterious and, ultimately, philosophical. An encounter set on the Brooklyn Bridge, a visit to an “experimental” Chinatown dentist and Vita’s elaborate explanation of why she’s uneasy among humans hint at what the film might have been with a sustained level of invention. A parody of the Russian roulette scene in “The Deer Hunter” and stage acts in a Franco-Greek cabaret also score mild comic points.

Jazzy score, collage-style title cards boldly used as dialogue bookmarks and an eye for offbeat interiors are all promising. But pic’s only consistent plus is bedraggled comic Berroyer’s offhand perf. Tech credits are adequate for a low-budget endeavor, and the enterprise manages to portray a strange, casually exotic New York where nearly everyone happens to speak French.




A Swift Prods. release (in France) of a Paris New York Prod./Double A Films production, with participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: Mercure Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Claude Kunetz, Marc Piton. Co-producer, Andrew Fierberg. Directed by Arnold Barkus. Screenplay, Jackie Berroyer, Barkus, based on Berroyer's novel "La femme de Berroyer est plus belle que toi, connasse!" Camera (color), Michael Barrow, Bertrand Mouly; editor, Isabelle Dedieu; music, Jonathan Sampson; art direction, Aleksandar Denic, Laurent Allaire, Bernhard Blythe; sound (Dolby), Bruno Tarriere; associate producer, Amy Hobby. Reviewed at Studio des Ursulines, Paris, Dec. 22, 1997. Running time: 88 MIN.


Jean ..... Jackie Berroyer Max ..... Arnold Barkus Vita ..... Maria de Medeiros
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