Title expedition in "The Journey to Armenia" is a long haul, as a no-nonsense French cardiologist from Marseilles searches for her abruptly AWOL father in the shadow of his native Mount Ararat. Guediguian completists and the Armenian diaspora will bite, but leisurely venture has as many endings as the third installment of "The Lord of the Rings."

Title expedition in “The Journey to Armenia” is a long haul, as a no-nonsense French cardiologist from Marseilles searches for her abruptly AWOL father in the shadow of his native Mount Ararat. Watchable odyssey follows the familiar template of a successful, secular urbanite reluctantly discovering her ethnic roots, with social and historical relevance injected along the way. Guediguian completists — a commodity in which Gaul abounds — and the Armenian diaspora will bite, but leisurely venture has as many endings as the third installment of “The Lord of the Rings.”

Ariane Ascaride originated the story, assigning herself the relatively unsympathetic role of Anna, the only daughter of a deceased Italian mother and an Armenian father, Barsam (Marcel Bluwal). When Barsam, who needs heart surgery, hightails it to his homeland without warning, peeved Anna leaves hubby and daughter for a week to track him down, finding (surprise!) herself along the way. Matters perk up when it turns out Anna knows how to wield a gun as well as a stethoscope. Pleasing score and scenery help pass the time, but result remains conventional and just a sliver short of contrived.

The Journey to Armenia

France

Production

A Diaphana release of an Agat Films & Cie. presentation of an Agat Films & Cie., France 3 Cinema production with participation of Paradise, Canal Plus, CineCinema, CNC. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Robert Guediguian, Agat Films & Cie. Co-producers, Martin Adoyan, Taguhi Karapetyan. Directed by Robert Guediguian. Screenplay, Ariane Ascaride, Marie Desplechin, Guediguian.

Crew

Camera (color), Pierre Milon; editor, Bernard Sasia; music, Arto Tuncboyacyyan; production designer, Karim Hamzaoui; art director, Karim Hamzaoui; costume designer, Anne-Marie Giacalone. Reviewed at MK2 Odeon, Paris, July 13, 2006. Running time: 117 MIN.

With

Ariane Ascaride, Gerard Meylan, Simon Abkarian, Serge Avedikian, Chorik Grigorian, Roman Avinian, Kristina Hovakimian, Madeleine Guediguian, Marcel Bluwal, Jalil Lespert, Jean-Pierre Darroussin.
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