Review: ‘Variete Francaise’

A curiously tentative first feature from actor-director Frederic Videau, "Variete Francaise" offers an intriguing situation and some promising scenes in the first half which unfortunately give way to tedium and confusion in the second. Though attractively packaged, the film lacks the substance to make a lasting impact.

A curiously tentative first feature from actor-director Frederic Videau, “Variete Francaise” offers an intriguing situation and some promising scenes in the first half which unfortunately give way to tedium and confusion in the second. Though attractively packaged, the film lacks the substance to make a lasting impact.

Eric (played by the director) returns to his home town after studying in Paris to marry his girlfriend, Edith (Helene Fillieres). But something’s amiss with his parents; his father has quit his job and is building a new house, planning to sell the old one, despite his mother’s objections. Returning home late after visiting Edith, Eric sees the bodies of his mother and brother lying on the floor, but then he’s struck on the head and awakes next morning thinking perhaps it was all a dream. However, his mother and brother are missing, and the latter’s girlfriend is concerned — and Edith is worried that Eric’s behavior is getting odder by the minute. In the end, the film adds up to very little, and the actors give every impression be being ill-at-ease with their sketchy roles. Pic press-screened at Venice ended abruptly, sans end credits.

Variete Francaise

France

Production

A Film Oblige production. Produced, directed, written by Frederic Videau.

Crew

Camera (color), Catherine Pujol; editor, Mitchell Lackie; music, Jacno; production designer, Ethan Tobman. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Critics' Week), Aug. 29, 2003. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Frederic Videau, Helene Fillieres, Gerard Meylan, Alexis Nitzer; Julie Bonan, Liliale Rovere, Dominique Reymond, Jacno.
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