A radio-show self-help host dispenses anonymous wisdom on the airwaves in Gallic dramedy "On Air," from frosh scribe-helmer Pierre Pinaud. But, in what's indicative of the pic's general level of sophistication, the protag herself is in dire need of some good advice to sort out her messy past and private life.

A radio-show self-help host dispenses anonymous wisdom on the airwaves in Gallic dramedy “On Air,” from frosh scribe-helmer Pierre Pinaud. But, in what’s indicative of the pic’s general level of sophistication, the protag herself is in dire need of some good advice to sort out her messy past and private life. Though the sketchy narrative is reductive, star Karin Viard (“Potiche,” “Polisse”) brings some much-needed humanity and nuance to her mysophobic character. Early 2012 release did low-to-midrange biz in Gaul, and will see French film events and Eurotube channels tune in.

Fortyish, Paris-based Claire (Viard) is a success as the mysterious Melina, who gives advice to her faithful, phone-in listeners. But her need to hide her own secrets, and her observation of a group of people (one of whom is a big fan of Melina, natch) that are tied to her rural past signals she has major issues. An awkward lunch sequence with the handsome Lucas (Nicolas Duvauchelle), part of the clan she’s been following, has a crackling energy and smart mise-en-scene that other sequences lack. Lenser Guillaume Deffontaines makes some weird lighting choices; focus and continuity errors abound.

On Air

France

Production

A Diaphana Distribution release of an Estrella Prods. production, in association with Bonne Pioche Cinema, with the participation of Canal Plus, Orange Cinema Series, Cine Plus. (International sales: SND, Paris.) Produced by Stephanie Carreras. Co-producers, Yves Darondeau, Christophe Lioud, Emmanuel Priou. Directed, written by Pierre Pinaud.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Guillaume Deffontaines; editors, Valerie Deseine, Nathalie Hubert; music, Maidi Roth; production designer, Marie Cheminal; costume designer, Elisabeth Tavernier. Reviewed at Cine Cite Les Halles, Paris, Jan. 26, 2012. (In Berlin Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Karin Viard, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Nadia Barentin, Patrick Fierry, Catherine Hosmalin, Jean-Noel Broete, Dani, Francois Boureloup.

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