A refreshingly light pic, “2 Seconds” is a reasonably engaging portrait of a mountain bike racer in the throes of a midlife crisis. The main attraction of this rather slim piece of filmmaking is a warm, appealing performance by seasoned Quebec thesp Charlotte Laurier. But this first feature from Montreal helmer Manon Briand, who directed one of the segments of last year’s “Cosmos,” is simply too slight to set itself apart from the indie pack and make much of a mark theatrically.
The title refers to the crucial moment of hesitation Laurie (Laurier) experiences at the start of a race atop a mountain in California when she begins to feel some insecurity about her age. She is unceremoniously fired from the mountain bike racing team after her poor finish. Confused and upset, Laurie heads home to Montreal, where she moves in with her nerdy, ultra-goofy brother, Steff (Yves Pelletier).
She takes her bike to an out-of-the-way repair shop run by a crusty old Italian named Lorenzo (Dino Tavarone), and, despite a testy first meeting, Laurie and Lorenzo become good pals thanks to their shared love of bike racing. It’s clear, too, that she admires his independent spirit. When she takes a day job as a bicycle courier, Laurie continually runs afoul of her boss because she tends to zoom off across the city and forget about her deliveries.
Briand does a good job of capturing the unique youth subculture surrounding the Gen-X bike-courier scene, but the central story about Laurie and Lorenzo’s unlikely friendship is much less convincing. The old crank with a heart of gold is too much of a stock character, and the dynamic between the two is further muddied by the choice of Tavarone for the role. He looks too young to play the curmudgeon, who is supposed to be at least a couple of decades older than Laurie.
It’s nice to see Laurier in a good lead role after too long an absence; she’s perfect as the frustrated racer who never loses her big, loopy grin. Pelletier provides some welcome laughs as the brother obsessed with finding a girlfriend, Einstein’s theory of relativity and coming up with a winning lottery number.
James Gray’s lensing captures the feel of zipping through the streets of downtown Montreal on a bike; there is no shortage of nifty visual flourishes here. Soundtrack is an appropriately cool urban mix of jazz and modern-rock sounds.