Review: ‘Lovely Rita: Patron Saint of Lost Causes’

The term "stillborn" overpraises "Lovely Rita: Patron Saint of Lost Causes," a comedy so strained the film seems to herniate in the projector. Pic should be long gone from theaters by the time talented Austrian Jessica Hausner's 2001 pic, "Lovely Rita," gets a belated release in Gaul late October.

The term “stillborn” overpraises “Lovely Rita: Patron Saint of Lost Causes,” a comedy so strained the film seems to herniate in the projector. An arbitrary melding of several genres, caper pic squanders a game name cast on an art theft and revenge plot laced with vomit and urine gags. Though lensed with widescreen polish in Nice and Cannes, this is TV fodder at heart. Pic should be long gone from theaters by the time talented Austrian Jessica Hausner’s 2001 pic, “Lovely Rita,” gets a belated release in Gaul late October.

Film was co-written by and stars Gallic comedy staple Christian Clavier (“The Visitors,” TV’s “Napoleon”) and was helmed by his brother, Stephane. After assessing a Cote d’Azur firm at a lower presale value than wished for by its owner (Eddy Mitchell) and his pulpy but straitlaced financial director (Arielle Dombasle), accountant Edgar (Clavier) is drawn into disposing of a body with an Internet hooker, the eponymous Rita (Julie Gayet). Latter has stolen a priceless painting from a vindictive antiques dealer (Jean-Claude Dreyfus). Though the script is based on a book, it plays as if inspired by random flash cards.

Lovely Rita: Patron Saint of Lost Causes

France

Production

A GBVI release of a Gaumont presentation of an Ouille Prods., Gaumont, TF1 Films Prod. production, with participation of Canal Plus. Produced by Christian Clavier. Co-producer, Alain Doutey. Directed by Stephane Clavier. Screenplay, Christian Clavier, Louis Paraz, Benjamin Legrand, based on the novel "Lovely Rita" by Benjamin Legrand.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Yves Cape; editor, Henri Revelou; music, Michel Hardy, Francois Castello; art director, Patrick Durand; costume designers, Annick Ledon, Cecile Cotten. Reviewed at UGC Danton, Paris, Sept. 24, 2003. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Christian Clavier, Julie Gayet, Eddy Mitchell, Arielle Dombasle, Pierre Mondy, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Arnaud Giovaninetti, Pierre Mondy, Marthe Villalonga.
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