Managing the not-insubstantial trick of being intellectual and mischievous, “Three Bridges Over the River” is the new pic from French vet Jean-Claude Biette , who has written about film and acted in Eric Rohmer’s “A Tale of Winter.” A distinctive alternative to mainstream French fare, item will be received accordingly but might be heavy going for those who like their metaphors neat.
Nothing’s simple for the sensitive Arthur (Mathieu Amalric), a timid history prof who lives alone in Paris after breaking up with single mother Claire (Jeanne Balibar). Traveling to Lisbon to consult with a prominent historian on his thesis, Arthur impulsively decides to try again with Claire by asking her to come with him on his research trip. But as they travel from Lisbon to Porto, their reconciliation takes a sinister turn in the person of Arthur’s pushy neighbor, Franck Opportun (Biette regular Thomas Badek), who represents the intrusion of a conspiratorial outside world. Re selection of Porto, Biette cites Manoel de Oliveira as an influence, which should be a tip-off to the love-it-or-hate-it nature of the work, at once droll and inscrutable.