Review: ‘Let’s Dance!’

The father, mother and grown daughter of an eccentric Parisian family greet life's obstacles with gradations of wacky fortitude in "Let's Dance!"

The father, mother and grown daughter of an eccentric Parisian family greet life’s obstacles with gradations of wacky fortitude in “Let’s Dance!” Uneven ensembler from Noemie Lvovsky is most rewarding in its frank and funny treatment of aged characters, splendidly limned by Jean-Pierre Marielle and Bulle Ogier. Terrific dream sequences featuring Adolf Hitler in both animated and human-impersonator form augment a food-for-thought attitude toward senior citizens. Local reception for Nov. 14 release was solid, with Jewish fests a lock for a film about mortality that brims with life.

Sarah (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), at 41, is surprisingly well-adjusted, considering she was raised by self-absorbed Solomon (Marielle) and Genevieve (a delectably spaced-out Ogier). Sarah’s parents have lived apart for 25 years but meet once a week.

Genevieve should be comfortably well off but has a tendency to give away all her cash and worldly belongings. This makes it difficult to pay kindly, solicitous Mr. Mootoosamy (Bakary Sangare), who attends to her every need.

Solomon, whose entire family perished in Auschwitz, is jovial by nature and loves to tap-dance along with Fred Astaire while watching “Top Hat.” In a scene played for the full weight of its dark comedy, Solomon — pushing 80 but in fine health — confronts a young bank official (Nicolas Maury) who sent him a series of form letters declaring him uninsurable.

An intense grace characterizes another scene in which Solomon attempts to donate his body to science, only to be dissuaded by a young medical student (Judith Chemla). Solomon meets vivacious history teacher Violette (Sabine Azema) and a romance blossoms, for which both are charmingly grateful.

Pic is so stuffed with incidents (and sometimes smothered under a jaunty jazz score from Archie Shepp), that it feels longer than it is. While presumably deliberate, instances in which editing looks slightly choppy serve no discernible artistic purpose. Finale is exhausting.

But the characters are memorable and the themes worth tackling. Helmer nicely integrates film clips from “In the Soup” to “The Fly II” as winks at how truth can be every bit as strange as fiction. Sarah’s refreshingly grounded husband Francois (Arie Elmaleh) wryly tries to describe the merits of “The Godfather” to Genevieve, who has never seen it.

As an elderly neighbor who delivers a spooky oral treatise on how women just want to exhaust men and destroy their prostates, the spectral Daniel Emilfork is indelibly strange.

Let's Dance!

France - Switzerland


A UGC Distribution release of a Why Not Prods. presentation of a Why Not Prods., UGC Images, France 2 Cinema, Vega Film, Television Suisse Romance co-production. (International sales: UCG Intl., Paris.) Produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Gregoire Joilute. Executive producer, Martine Cassinelli. Co-producer, Ruth Waldburger. Directed by Noemie Lvovsky. Screenplay, Lvovsky, Florence Seyvos.


Camera (color), Jean-Marc Fabre; editor, Emmanuelle Castro; music, Archie Shepp; production designer, Marie Cheminal; costume designer, Dorothee Guiraud; sound (Dolby), Brigitte Taillandier, Stephane Malbrant, Nicolas Croset, Emmanuel Croset; animation, Anais Vaugelade; assistant director, Olivier Genet; casting, Stephane Batut. Reviewed at Pantheon, Paris, Nov. 9, 2007. Running time: 100 MIN.


Jean-Pierre Marielle, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Sabine Azema, Bulle Ogier, Bakary Sangare, Arie Elmaleh, Nicolas Maury, Judith Chemla, Daniel Emilfork. (English, French dialogue)
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