Review: ‘Leave Your Hands on My Hips’

An off-kilter romance, "Leave Your Hands on My Hips" is an unclassifiable first film that seems primed for Gallic success. Blend of gutter humor and visual sophistication follows a pushing-50 single mom who experiences a spurt of adolescent energy when her grown daughter leaves home.

An off-kilter romance made even less predictable by wide swaths of silliness and derision, “Leave Your Hands on My Hips” is an unclassifiable first film that seems primed for Gallic success. Blend of gutter humor and visual sophistication follows a pushing-50 single mom who experiences a spurt of adolescent energy when her grown daughter leaves home. While consistently amusing and sometimes highly original, pic suffers from a bit too much dead air, but nonetheless European hardtops beckon as do fest dates.

While the theme of midlife romance is universal (and somewhat in vogue in Gaul, with Marc Esposito’s four-hander “The Heart of Men” also enterting theaters on April 2), pic’s humor is partially grounded in local auds’ familiarity with — and affection for — key players. Lauby, making her helming debut, was the female third, with Gallic industry staples Alain Chabat and Dominique Farrugia, of the now-disbanded “Les Nuls” comedy trio. Pic was produced by widely admired Claudie Ossard, who shepherded “Delicatessen,” “City of Lost Children,” “Betty Blue” and “Amelie.” A bit overlong and self-indulgent, venture looks great (particularly in night shots) thanks to lensing by Tetsuo Nagata.

Semi-famous Parisian actress Odile (Lauby) is at loose ends when Marie (Armelle Deutsch), the daughter she has raised on her own, announces she’s leaving home to live with her boyfriend, Guillaume (Christophe Debonneuil).

When Odile, whose circle of friends seems evenly divided between gay men and colorful flakes of both sexes, meets strong, semi-silent Kader (Jean-Pierre Martins), a younger fellow who lives in a mobile home and runs a fairground attraction for a living, her long-dormant girlish hormones surface with a vengeance. Pic’s goofy variation on the couple’s first kiss is a memorable bit of schtick.

Myriam Boyer and Bernard Menez score as the concierges who have plenty of misleading anecdotal evidence for assuming Odile leads an utterly debauched rather than merely bohemian lifestyle.

Chabat is funny as the director of Odile’s latest stage perf and Jean-Hughes Anglade is in top form as her leading man. A musician who has never before acted, Martins is a natural and highly appealing.

Title is that of a catchy 1960s French-lingo pop hit with Austin Powers-style iconic power for French boomers.

Leave Your Hands on My Hips

France

Production

An ARP Selection release of a Claudie Ossard presentation of a Claudie Ossard, Bollore Production, Les Films Alain Sarde, France 3 Cinema production. (International sales: TF1 Intl., Paris.) Produced by Ossard. Directed, written by Chantal Lauby.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Tetsuo Nagata; editor, Marie-Josephe Yoyotte; music, Frederic Talgorn, Adamo; art director, Aline Bonetto; costume designer, Madeleine Fontaine; sound (Dolby), Marc-Antoine Beldent, Vincent Arnardi; casting, Pierre-Jacques Benichou. Reviewed at UGC Normandie, Paris, March 7, 2003. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Odile Rousselet - Chantal Lauby Kader - Jean-Pierre Martins Myriam - Rossy de Palma Nath - Claude Perron Bernard - Alain Chabat Jerome - Jean-Hugues Anglade Marie - Armelle Deutsch
With: David Saracino, Khalid Maadour, Boris Terral, Thomas Derichebourg, Jerome Bertin, Adamo, Dominique Besnehard, Francoise Lepine, Christophe Debonneuil.
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