A first feature about bereavement, “17 Times Cecile Cassard” fails to shed new light on the painful subject. Ponderously and self-importantly directed, pic follows a recently widowed woman — a one note performance by Beatrice Dalle — who dumps her small son and takes off for another town to start a new life. Murky images, unattractive characters and excessive length will limit this to gay fests and marginal screenings.
Dalle portrays the eponymous Cecile (the “17 times” reference never makes any sense). She can’t get over the accidental death of her husband, Thierry (Jerome Kircher), who, in the opening sequence, appears to her, naked, in a ghostly vision. She drives to Toulouse, where she rents a room in a seedy hotel. Soon she begins to attract testosterone-charged boys and gay men. After a great deal of listless fag-hag scenes, Cecile finds a soulmate in Matthieu (Romain Duris), who offers to father her child. Pic reaches its nadir in an extended scene in which a near-naked Matthieu sings the title song from Jacques Demy’s “Lola.” In an entirely extraneous sequence, what appears to be a horse is dismembered to feed a hungry crowd.