Pas Tres Catholique

Though dominated by a striking, lived-in performance from Gallic comedienne Anemone, "Something Fishy" is too easygoing for its own good. Gently comic portrait of a 40ish female gumshoe whose personal life is as loose-fitting as her wardrobe, this sophomore effort from Tonie Marshall (daughter of actors Micheline Presle and William Marshall) has many fine moments but would have benefited from tighter scripting and dramatic focus. Pleasant pic looks unlikely to net many arthouse sales offshore.

Though dominated by a striking, lived-in performance from Gallic comedienne Anemone, “Something Fishy” is too easygoing for its own good. Gently comic portrait of a 40ish female gumshoe whose personal life is as loose-fitting as her wardrobe, this sophomore effort from Tonie Marshall (daughter of actors Micheline Presle and William Marshall) has many fine moments but would have benefited from tighter scripting and dramatic focus. Pleasant pic looks unlikely to net many arthouse sales offshore.

Anemone is Maxime, a chain-smoking, slobby private investigator who’s estranged from her son and ex-husband and occasionally jumps in the sack with her elegant friend Florence (Christine Boisson) for some womanly tender loving care. Unconventional but good at her job, she suddenly starts to hear hetero music again after literally being swept off her feet by handsome, laid-back economist Jacques (Michel Didym).

Among the many cases on which she’s working, one implicates her smoothie ex-husband in an insurance scam and draws her closer to her grown-up son, Baptiste (Gregoire Colin). In personal terms, however, it’s still a dead end, and she’s finally forced to choose whether to throw caution to the wind and go off with Jacques on a lovefest or stick with the solo life.

Anemone, with more than a passing resemblance to Bette Midler, is excellent as the woman at a crossroads and puts to good use her dry humor and ballsy putdowns. Equally good at goofy comedy and more intimate scenes — and bringing an easy sexuality to her sack sessions with both Boisson and Didym — the actress seems made for the role.

She’s well supported by a galaxyof character actors in background parts, plus Colin as her independent, off-center son and Denis Podalydes as her confused, gay colleague. Presle herself pops up briefly in a disposable cameo as a grieving widow. Though technically OK, film lacks a strong directorial presence and visual style, with scenes strung together rather than individually advancing the storyline. Color processing also has a somewhat steely, unwelcoming look.

Pas Tres Catholique

Production: An AB Films/3eme Etage/M6 Films/Planetes & Compagnie production, in association with Cite Films/Legende Prods., with participation of Bymages 2 /Canal Plus. (International sales: CIBY Sales, London.) Produced by Michel Propper, Frederic Bourboulon. Directed, written by Tonie Marshall.

Crew: Camera (color), Dominique Chapuis; editor, Jacques Comets; art direction, Marie-Pierre Bourboulon; costume design, Valerie Pozzo Di Borgo; sound, Alix Comte, Gerard Lamps; assistant director, Alain Peyrollaz. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 12, 1994. Running time: 100 MIN.

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