Review: ‘Park Benches’

Bruno Podalydes returns to his hometown of Versailles and the present for the star-studded letdown "Park Benches."

After two successful period mysteries, helmer Bruno Podalydes (“The Mystery of the Yellow Room”) returns to his hometown of Versailles and the present for the star-studded letdown “Park Benches.” The film’s very loosely connected glimpses of a few dozen people in an office, a local park and a home-improvement store might be useful as a primer on French movie stars working today, but is only sporadically interesting for what actually occurs onscreen. Locally, the pic did barely OK biz given its marquee value; some fests will no doubt be drawn to the potential red-carpet photo ops.

Aside from a hilarious filth-laden company presentation by Mr. Borelly (Pierre Arditi) and a funny sequence involving the wall cabinet of a worried home-improvement store customer (Catherine Deneuve), there are long stretches in which famous French faces pop up for several minutes before disappearing off the radar. Apparent theme of loneliness in the big city hardly crystallizes, and the final resolution meant to tie things together is weak. Tech credits are just OK. Title literally translates as “Public Benches (Versailles — Right Bank),” which explicitly ties the film to Podalydes’ debut, “Versailles — Left Bank.”

Park Benches



A UGC release of a Why Not Prods., UGC Images, France 2 Cinema production. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Pascal Caucheteux. Executive producer, Martine Cassinelli. Directed by Bruno Podalydes. Screenplay, Podalydes, Olivia Basset.


Camera (color, widescreen), Yves Cape; editor, Emmanuelle Castro; music, David Lafore, Ezechiel Pailhes; production designer, Marie Cheminal; costume designer, Dorothee Guiraud. Reviewed at UGC Toison d'Or, Brussels, Aug. 19, 2009. Original title: Bancs publics (Versailles rive droite). Running time: 116 MIN.


Denis Podalydes, Isabelle Candelier, Pierre Arditi, Michael Lonsdale, Thierry Lhermitte, Josiane Balasko, Benoit Poelvoorde, Bruno Podalydes, Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Almaric, Chaira Mastroianni, Nicole Garcia, Olivier Gourmet, Amira Casar, Julie Depardieu.

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