AFM

"Versailles" is scripter Pierre Schoeller's largely half-baked feature debut as helmer.

A homeless mother drops her kid off with a reclusive ex-con in the forest of “Versailles,” scripter Pierre Schoeller’s largely half-baked feature debut as helmer. Very Gallic in the way down-and-outers double as philosophers, pic requires a heavy suspension of belief and never really builds to anything memorable, though perfs are strong and lensing is finely textured. French screens should see decent biz, but offshore auds are likely to give “Versailles” a “let them eat cake” shrug of indifference.

Tired of the social services system she can’t negotiate, homeless Nina (Judith Chemla) is a loving but inadequate mother to 5-year-old Enzo (Max Baissette de Malglaive, impressive). Chancing upon Damien (Guillaume Depardieu) in his shack in the Versailles woods, she does a runner after one night, leaving Enzo so she can put her life in order. Though largely controlled by his id, Damien grows close to the boy; as winter comes he returns to his estranged father (Patrick Descamps) to give Enzo a home. Long nighttime takes and plays of focus characterize skilled lensing, through close-ups of Enzo’s brown eyes milk silent exclamations of “adorable!,” and piano music unnecessarily underlines poignancy.

 

Versailles

France

Production

A Les films Pelleas production, with the participation of the Centre National de la Cinematographie. (International sales: Les Films du Losange, Paris.) Produced by Geraldine Michelot. Directed, written by Pierre Schoeller.

Crew

Camera (color), Julien Hirsch; editor, Mathilde Muyard; music, Philippe Schoeller; production designer, Brigitte Brassart; costume designer, Marie Cesari; line producers, Philippe Martin, Geraldine Michelot. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 19, 2008. Running time: 113 MIN.

With

Guillaume Depardieu, Max Baissette de Malglaive, Judith Chemla, Aure Atika, Patrick Descamps, Matteo Giovannetti, Brigitte Sy, Franc Bruneau, Philippe Dupagne.

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