Thanks for the Gesture

Produced by Charles Gassot. Executive producers, Jacques Hinstin, Alain Steffen.

Produced by Charles Gassot. Executive producers, Jacques Hinstin, Alain Steffen.

Directed, written by Claude Faraldo. Camera (color), Yves Lafaye; editor, Guy Lecorne; music, Sergio Tomassi; art directors, Alain Vibet, Yann Sibiril, Gilles Laboulandine; costume designer, Nathalie du Roscoat. Reviewed at Club 13 screening room, Paris, Dec. 13, 1999. Original title: Merci pour le geste. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: Jacques Hansen, Marie Rousseau, Agathe de la Boulaye, Erick Deshors, Francoise Arnoul, Steve Kalfa, Annie Mercier.

The supple contours of human dignity are explored with mostly subtle strokes in “Thanks for the Gesture,” the story of a homeless man and his newfound canine pal. Shot on video with considerable flair, this affecting tale could almost qualify as a Dogma 95 entry if it ditched the soundtrack music. Portrait of a former exec long sheared of his bourgeois life is marbled with compound embarrassments and the convincing dynamics of shame and boredom.

Fiftysomething Michel (Jacques Hansen) desultorily walks the streets without a sense of purpose until he hooks up with a dog who’s been abused by its owner. Parisians love dogs, and suddenly Michel is human again. When the police threaten to send the mutt to the pound, Michel reluctantly gives them the name of his former companion, Betty (Marie Rousseau), now married to a city official. She’s thrilled to see him again, but what should be a positive turning point for Michel is a complex catastrophe for man and dog. Lighting and intrusive ambient sound bring an effective faux-docu feel to this compassionate portrayal that some auds may find too contrived toward the end.

Thanks for the Gesture

(FRANCE)

Production: A Mars Film release of a Telema/Studio Canal Plus/France 2 Cinema production, with participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: Le Studio Canal Plus, Paris.)

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