An arty confection that feels longer than its scant 70 minutes, "The Wimbledon Stage" is a literary European road movie in which an unnamed Frenchwoman makes several trips to Trieste, northern Italy, where she interviews friends of a long-dead writer who attained fame by, uh, <I>not</I> writing.

An arty confection that feels longer than its scant 70 minutes, “The Wimbledon Stage” is a literary European road movie in which an unnamed Frenchwoman makes several trips to Trieste, northern Italy, where she interviews friends of a long-dead writer who attained fame by, uh, not writing. Wispy venture, which bowed at Locarno last summer, has “film festivals” written all over it.

Sophomore feature by Gallic thesp Mathieu Amalric (“How I Got Into an Argument,” “Late August, Early September”) has the camera feast its lens on actress Jeanne Balibar (helmer’s real-life better half) as she takes in the quainter aspects of Italian cafes, train stations and used book shops. Painterly pic is either needlessly oblique or captivatingly mysterious, according to the viewer’s appetite for an exercise in which the journey is supposed to be as precious as the destination. Film was lensed in natural light on four different trips to Trieste and one to the U.K. over a period of 18 months. Its title evokes both the real London suburb of Wimbledon and a developmental “stage” the woman reaches while killing time there.

The Wimbledon Stage

France

Production

A Gemini Films release and production, with participation of CNC and Canal Plus. (International sales: Gemini, Paris.) Produced by Paulo Branco. Directed, written by Mathieu Amalric, based on the novel "Lo stadio di Wimbledon" by Daniele del Giudice.

Crew

Camera (color), Christophe Beaucarne; editor, Francois Gedigier; music, Gregoire Hetzel. Reviewed at Cinema du Pantheon, Paris, Feb. 22, 2002. (In London Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival -- Filmmakers of the Present.) Italian, French & English dialogue. Running time: 70 MIN. With: Jeanne Balibar, Esther Gorintin, Anna Prucnal, Ariella Reggio, Paul-Jean Franceschini, Anton Petje, Peter Hudson, Claudio Birsa.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more