An utterly refreshing look at work, love and politics centered on two attractive young women who are nuts about each other, "Looking For Cheyenne" is suspenseful, funny, touching, sexy and painlessly pertinent. A date movie for auds of every persuasion, this sure-handed debut by writer-director Valerie Minetto is ready for fests and niche distribs.

An utterly refreshing look at work, love and politics centered on two attractive young women who are nuts about each other, “Looking For Cheyenne” is suspenseful, funny, touching, sexy and painlessly pertinent. Rich distillation of romances both sour and sweet manages to breathe new life into the question of whether one should play along with “the system” or drop out of consumer society for a life of self-reliance. A date movie for auds of every persuasion, this sure-handed debut by writer-director Valerie Minetto is ready for fests and niche distribs.

Pic is about love and longing in many of its permutations, and how professional and financial setbacks can strain even true romance to breaking point. That the central couple are two women is as matter-of-fact as a Hollywood protagonist knowing how to drive a car or fire a gun.

Feisty brunette Cheyenne (Mila Dekker) has been separated from her blonde girlfriend, Sonia (Aurelia Petit), for 17 days and counting. A well-liked high school science teacher, Sonia has a light touch in the classroom.

Downsized from her journalism job and unable to find work, Cheyenne has decided to live off the grid, unwilling to rely on handouts from the government. For her, that means no electricity or running water, candles for light, bicycle for transportation, discarded veggies for food.

Sonia enjoys her work and has no interest in living off the land. But both women are hurting bad — and break the fourth wall to address the audience in revealing ways. Pic asks how to go about compromising when what each party desires — besides the other party — is so different.

To drown her sorrows, Sonia picks up appealing free-spirit Pierre (Malik Zidi). He’s instantly smitten, says he’s not jealous and doesn’t mind if she’s really a lesbian. Pierre’s specialty is subversive flyers and anarchist slogans which he disseminates for the sheer thought-provoking joy.

A predatory well-to-do woman (Guilaine Londez), a cute student convinced she has to drop out (Eleonore Michelin), a cynical back-to-the-land advocate (Laurence Cote) and a friendly Russian (Miglen Mirtchev) join the waltz of mix-’n’-match possibilities.

Dialogue is sharp, heartache is palpable and the critique of how capitalist society just wants to chew you up and spit you out is deftly woven into a new-fangled, old-fashioned love story. Although venture is modest, Minetto knows how to direct actors and how to frame a shot for maximum mileage. Thesps are spot-on.

Looking for Cheyenne

France

Production

A Les Films du Paradoxe release of a Dominique Crevecoeur presentation of a Bandoneon production, with participation of CNC. (International sales: Wide Management, Paris.) Produced by Dominique Crevecoeur. Directed by Valerie Minetto. Screenplay, Minetto, Cecile Vargaftig.

Crew

Camera (color), Stephan Massis; editor, Tina Baz-Le-Gal; music, Christophe Chevalier; sound (Dolby), Eric Boisteau, Nathalie Vidal; associate producer, Yves Renier. Reviewed at MK2 Hautefeuille, Paris, March 25, 2006. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Mila Dekker, Aurelia Petit, Laurence Cote, Malik Zidi, Guilaine Londez, Eleonore Michelin, Miglen Mirtchev, Pierre Hiessler.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more