Alzheimer's disease turns out to be a minor blessing for the protag of "Small World," Gallic helmer Bruno Chiche's French-language adaptation of the Austrian bestseller by Martin Suter.

Alzheimer’s disease turns out to be a minor blessing for the protag of “Small World,” Gallic helmer Bruno Chiche’s French-language adaptation of the Austrian bestseller by Martin Suter. Well-structured story uses the fact that, though Alzheimer’s patients lose track of the present, childhood memories return to them vividly, which here might inadvertently uncover a dark family secret. Classically directed to the point of feeling slightly musty, pic was already released in German- and French-speaking Europe and did middling biz on both sides of the Rhine. Name cast headed by Gerard Depardieu should help it nab some ancillary deals.

Simple soul Conrad (Depardieu) is a family friend of the rich Senns, and works for them as a janitor. But his encroaching illness has become a liability for the family, which includes Conrad’s childhood chum (Niels Arestrup) and the clan’s icy matriarch (Francoise Fabian). Conrad’s former lover (Nathalie Baye) and the no-nonsense fiancee (Alexandra Maria Lara) of the family’s youngest scion (Yannick Renier) offer Conrad some comfort in an increasingly hostile environment. Well-acted pic is plushly appointed and Klaus Badelt’s score classy, but overall result, while respectable, lacks that spark of originality.

Small World

France-Germany

Production

A Rezo Films (in France)/Majestic (in Germany) release of a Quad Films, Blueprint Film production, in association with Studio 37, Chaocorp, Profidev, Apidev 2010. (International sales: Kinology, Paris.) Produced by Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, Yann Zenou. Co-producers, Amelie Latscha, Felix Moeller. Directed by Bruno Chiche. Screenplay, Chiche, Fabrice Roger-Lacan, Juliette Sales, Jennifer Devoldere, based on the novel by Martin Suter.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Thomas Hardmeier; editor, Marlon Monnier; music, Klaus Badelt; production designer, Herve Gallet; costume designer, Veronique Perier. Reviewed at UGC George V, Paris, April 11, 2011. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Gerard Depardieu, Niels Arestrup, Alexandra Maria Lara, Francoise Fabian, Yannick Renier, Nathalie Baye, Feodor Atkine, Olivier Claverie, Pascale Arbillot.
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