Gallic thesp Valerie Donzelli makes an auspicious jump to feature writing-directing with “The Queen of Hearts,” an endearingly goofy spin on looking-for-love-in-the-big-city comedies. Released at home in February after a year’s fest travel, pic might strike some as a too slender and oddball for offshore theatrical distribution. But its frequently hilarious progress certainly merits DVD pickups.Donzelli plays hapless Adele, a young Parisian who flings herself wholeheartedly into self-pitying despair when dumped by boyfriend Mathieu. Relocating to the living-room floor of abrasive, mysteriously eye-impaired cousin Rachel (Beatrice de Stael), Adele proves all too easily swept away by nearly every other man she meets. They include married employer Jacques, whom she dislikes but has highly vocal sex with; and Paul, whose love-at-first-sight passion turns out to be pretty pervy. Meanwhile, she takes for granted Pierre, an obvious Mr. Right. (Jeremie Elkaim does amusing quadruple duty in these male parts.) Pic’s puckish simplicity and absurdist humor (including song interludes) recalls ’60s pics such as Woody Allen’s “Take the Money and Run” and John Korty’s “Crazy Quilt.” Production values are low-budget but savvy.
A Les Prods. Balthazar production in association with Centre National de la Cinematographie. (International sales: Shellac, Marsaille.) Produced by Jerome Dopffer. Directed, written by Valerie Donzelli.
Camera (color), Celine Bozon; Sebastien Buchman, Claire Mathon; editor, Pauline Gaillard; music, Donzelli, Benjamin Biolay; production designer, Dorota Oculicz; costume designer, Elisabeth Mehu, Donzelli. Reviewed at Mill Valley Film Festival (World Cinema), Oct. 17, 2010. (Also in Buenos Aires Film Festival; 2009 Locarno, Thessaloniki film festivals.) Running time: 84 MIN.
Valerie Donzelli, Jeremie Elkaim, Beatrice de Stael, Laure Marsac, Etienne Kerber, Vanessa Seward, Serge Bozon, Lucia Sanchez, Gilles Marchand, Nadia Turincev.