A provincial meter maid’s latent dissatisfaction surfaces after a successful high school classmate returns briefly to town in “Hometown Blue.” Sweetly observed and nicely paced, bittersweet comedy has the universal touch that will make it welcome at fests and on Eurotubes. Modest but audience-tickling pic, co-written by appealing leading lady Florence Vignon, bodes well for debuting helmer Stephane Brize.
Since all motorists think their illegal parking tactics are justified, verbal abuse is an occupational hazard for Solange (Vignon), age 30, who patrols the streets issuing tickets. She has been married for five years to Patrick (Antoine Chappey), who preps bodies for autopsies in a hospital morgue. They’ll soon be moving into the new house they’ve built from scratch. Solange secretly practices singing to karaoke discs in front of a video camera. She has a pleasant voice but hasn’t taken any concrete steps toward a singing career.
When television weather girl Mylene (Mathilde Seigner), a ational figure whose face graces the covers of TV magazines, returns to her hometown from Paris to sign copies of her latest book, she and Solange renew their high school friendship. Mylene’s worldly persona triggers something in Solange, who suddenly rankles at the patterns her life has assumed.
Moments of genuine situational humor help pic stand out from the pack of modest Gallic comedies. Solange’s close relationship with her 88-year-old grandmother is adorably expressed via the ritual of the younger woman reading granny’s favorite recipes aloud from a cookbook — a shared pleasure that lends poignancy to a later scene. At Solange’s job, a co-worker’s campaign to get three-ply tissue for the station house restrooms manages to send up the minutiae of union activities while also functioning as a neat barometer of Solange’s take on her professional life. A choir of meter maids singing a chorale-style indictment of careless and insulting motorists at an award ceremony is a deadpan highlight.
Straightforward lensing suits the narrative, whose bittersweet tone is nicely sustained by thesps.