Misfortunes of Beauty

Produced by Dimitri de Clercq.

Produced by Dimitri de Clercq.

Directed by John Lvoff. Screenplay, Laure Massenet, Frederic Beigbeder, Lvoff. Camera (color), Gilles Porte; editor, Valerie Albertine; music, Frederick Rousseau; costume designer, Marielle Robaut. Reviewed at UGC Orient Express, Paris, Aug. 14, 1999. Original title: Les infortunes de la beaute. Running time: 79 MIN.

With: Arielle Dombasle, Maria de Medeiros, Thibault de Montalembert, Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing.

A fluffy confection with ample charm but less structure than an unstrung hammock, “Misfortunes of Beauty” pursues the philosophical question “What is beauty?” with a vengeance. Like its mostly handheld lensing, pic is way too casual to make a lasting impact — even in Paris, it opened on one screen. But fans of the wispy, talky, Rohmerish approach, embellished by several lovely nude filles, will glean scattered pleasures.

Scripters provide dozens of plausible responses to “Would you pose nude for a painter?” — which is what Daphne (Arielle Dombasle) asks attractive young women in the streets, parks and art galleries of Paris. Daphne, whose statuesque beauty is obvious to all but herself, has wobbly self-esteem, and Vincent (Thibault de Montalembert), the publisher she loves but is too insecure to approach, dates only fashion models. With best friend Celine (Maria de Medeiros) , she hatches a convoluted plan: Commission painter pal Jacques (Jean-Philippe Ecoffey) to do a nude portrait of the woman who most inspires him, and this will reawaken Vincent, a textbook Don Juan, to non-model beauty, thus paving the way for Daphne. Faux stalker score is a plus.

Misfortunes of Beauty

(COMEDY -- FRENCH)

Production: A Bac Films release (in France) of a Les Films du Lendemain/Les Films Alain Sarde production, with participation of Canal Plus. (International sales: Le Studio Canal Plus, Paris.)

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