Two young women — a former prisoner and a Paris judge — enrich each other’s lives in “Sole Sisters,” an offbeat comedy winningly recounted by helmer/co-scripter Pierre Jolivet from a highly convincing female p.o.v. Oft-lauded thesps Sandrine Kiberlain and Sylvie Testud rarely get to exercise their comic skills onscreen but are well-cast here in a refreshing romp that blends love of upscale footwear with a love of justice. Local returns should be encouraging from June 11 release in Gaul, and fest dates beckon for this modest but consistently enjoyable comic tour through multiple layers of social strata.
Carole (Kiberlain) is an overworked investigating magistrate married to an overworked doctor (her real-life spouse Vincent Lindon). The demands of their respective professions mean they rarely interact except when, collapsing into bed exhausted, they affectionately agree to put off sex until they both have enough energy.
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Comparatively strait-laced Carole interviews spunky working-class Tina (Testud), a candidate for parole. Tina was convicted, twice, of shoplifting exceptionally pricey shoes. Delinquent, who is anything but shy, lectures judge on the importance of snazzy footwear, launching a running gag of sensitized Carole suddenly paying attention to the shoes worn by her entourage.
Attempting to interrogate a suspect who speaks a brand of ghetto slang so thick you could cut it with a shiv, Carole finds streetsmart Tina invaluable as an impromptu translator. Riotous scene sets the tone for tale to come: Two women from different walks of life, each an only child, form an unlikely but sincere bond. Together they fight crime utilizing their combo of skills.
Collaboration is born when Tina is sprung with no place to go. She shows up on Carole’s doorstep to say “Thank-you,” ends up sleeping on the sofa and, thanks to her streetwise ways, is soon serving as bait to nab a notorious pimp.
In a subsequent case, in which suspect Mermot (Francois Berleand) is caught with fake casino slot machine tokens, the two women carry out on-site research in the company of a flexible local cop (Roschdy Zem). Paris and the resort town of Annecy are used to fine effect.
While ending is abrupt, pic’s effortless blend of workaday adversity and can-do ingenuity marks a return to “Ma petite entreprise” (My Little Business) form for Jolivet, whose most recent pic, “Le frere du guerrier” (The Warrior’s Brother), was an earnest misfire.