Review: ‘Nelly’

An ineffectual tale about a woman's curious reactions to her husband's sudden death, "Nelly" stumbles repeatedly in its cutesy efforts to deliver unanticipated twists on expected reactions to human tragedy. Pic refuses to illuminate the lives of any of its characters and clumsily revealing its comic intentions only after laborious effort.

An ineffectual tale about a woman’s curious reactions to her husband’s sudden death, “Nelly” stumbles repeatedly in its cutesy efforts to deliver unanticipated twists on expected reactions to human tragedy. Resolutely refusing to illuminate the inner lives of any of its characters, dead or alive, and clumsily revealing its comic intentions only after laborious effort, small French film is a non-starter, with Sophie Marceau in one of her most unrewarding roles. International prospects are nil.

Nelly (Marceau) returns from a beach outing with the kids to find her doctor husband dead in his bed. The oddities, mostly spurred by Nelly’s neurotic whimsies, commence at once: Nelly insists upon keeping the body in the house; the village cemetery suddenly proves to be full; the coffin is given an exotic paint job, and long-admiring friend Jose (Antoine Chappey) proposes to her even before hubby is in the ground. Nelly seems so manic and hysterical even before her mate checks out that there’s no ceiling room left, leaving Marceau to bounce off the walls in an uncharacteristically grating perf. Mirthless outing feels like a pointless display of erratic behavior.

Nelly

Un Certain Regard / France

Production

A Marie Amelie production. (International sales: MGI Intl., Paris.) Directed by Laure Duthilleul. Screenplay, Duthilleul, Jean-Pol Fargeau, Pierre Erwan Guillaume.

Crew

Camera (color), Christophe Offenstein; editor, Catherine Quesemand; music, Franck II Louise; art director, Alain Tchillinguirian. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 14, 2004. Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Sophie Marceau, Antoine Chappey, Fabio Zenoni, Gerald Laroche, Pome Auzier, Jonas Capelier, Louis Lubat.
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