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Love & Confusion

Pop sociology by the bucketful, plus several eyefuls of wispy lingerie, are the main ingredients of Patrick Braoude's latest attempted recipe for remake success. Whereas the helmer-scripter-thesp's "Nine Months" struck a timely chord at home and abroad, and garnered respectable B.O., "Love & Confusion" is more likely to be seen as an already dated treatment of the battle of the sexes. Despite a fine distaff cast (Kristin Scott Thomas, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), pic delivers more speeches than laughs and more pop-worn cliches than comic ideas. Once the initial flurry at local wickets dies down, look for it on Eurotubes and in vid bins. Braoude, a gifted screenwriter with too journalistic an eye, has here decided to grapple with the stuff of Time magazine covers, circa 1980: Can a Career Woman be a woman? Can the New (i.e. sensitive) Man be a man? By throwing in a subplot about the manufacture and design of sexy underwear, Braoude shows he realizes his sociology lesson's comedic potential is irredeemably hackneyed.

With:
Dan ..... Patrick Braoude Sarah ..... Kristin Scott Thomas Simon ..... Gerard Darmon Michelle ..... Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi Mme. Libra ..... Jeanne Moreau Sexologist ..... Ticky Holgado

Story concerns the trials and tribulations of divorced nice guy Dan (Braoude) and warm-hearted executive Sarah (Scott Thomas). After an off-screen bout of love-making and soul-bonding, each loses the other’s address and wonders if it was just another one-night stand. They spend the pic looking for each other.

Dan is a designer of titillating women’s underwear who is oblivious to the beauty of his young models. He confides in Simon (Gerald Darmon), a red-blooded married man driven to old-style comic slavering by the sight of his friend’s

toothsome co-workers. Sarah, an overachieving manager sought out by corporate head-hunters, engages in a film-long heart-to-heart about women in modern society with Michelle (Bruni-Tedeschi), a weak-willed friend being used and abused as a mistress.

The men talk about new sexual techniques, the women about biological clocks. The two lonely lovers are brought together when, in a nice twist, Sarah becomes Dan’s boss. Encoring her weird mentor role in Luc Besson’s “La Femme Nikita,” Jeanne Moreau then appears to impart several gems of womanly wisdom to Sarah.

In casting the chameleonlike Bruni-Tedeschi as the hapless Michelle, Braoude ran the risk of having the hot young thesp run away with the story. She does precisely that, leaving the rest of the cast looking uncomfortably stodgy.

It is only in her scenes with Bruni-Tedeschi that Oscar hopeful Scott Thomas, her foreigner’s French flawless, appears anything other than irritated by having to play in this pic. Her romantic interest in Braoude never once convinces, nor does the helmer’s uneven perf as Dan. As Simon, the craggy Darmon is credible in a sometimes funny, often stagy turn as the stock coward-cum-lecher.

Movie’s plot is almost clever enough to overcome the triteness of its observations, but the pic founders in overindulgence. Scenes are invariably too long and characters too often end up laughing and ad-libbing, as if Braoude expected audiences to be helplessly mirthful and only too glad to be in on the joke.

Tech credits are first-rate, particularly when lenser Philippe Pavans de Ceccatty artfully displays naughty knickers. One only wishes they were draped over an elegant story.

Love & Confusion

AMOUR & CONFUSIONS

Production: A Gaumont Buena Vista Intl. release (in France) of a Legende Films/Gaumont/TF1 Films production. (International sales: Gaumont, Paris.) Produced by Alain Goldman. Directed, written by Patrick Braoude.

Crew: Camera (color), Philippe Pavans de Ceccatty; editor, Yves Deschamps; music, Jacques Davidovici; production design, Emmanuel Sorin; costume design, Mimi Lempicka, Nono Van Meerbeeck; sound (Dolby), Didie Lize; artistic consultant, Guila Braoude. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles Theater, Paris, Feb. 5, 1997. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: Dan ..... Patrick Braoude Sarah ..... Kristin Scott Thomas Simon ..... Gerard Darmon Michelle ..... Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi Mme. Libra ..... Jeanne Moreau Sexologist ..... Ticky Holgado

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