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When I’m a Star

A momma's boy with a larger-than-life mom tries to convince her their dreams and aspirations diverge in "When I'm a Star," a made-to-order showcase for inimitable actress Arielle Dombasle. A shoo-in for gay fests, ultra-French pic tackles the big issues with controlled, flamboyant strokes. Auds will either laugh it off the screen or cry "Art!"

A momma’s boy with a larger-than-life mom tries to convince her their dreams and aspirations diverge in “When I’m a Star,” a made-to-order showcase for inimitable actress Arielle Dombasle. Talky, voyeuristically fascinating pic won 2004’s Prix Jean Vigo. A shoo-in for gay fests, ultra-French pic tackles the big issues with controlled, flamboyant strokes. Auds will either laugh it off the screen or cry “Art!”

Diane de Montalte (Dombasle) and her 23-year-old son, Marc (co-scripter Yvan Fahl), share an impossibly elegant and spacious Paris apartment they can no longer afford. Right down to her pulpy lips, great cheekbones and riveting figure, Dombasle’s Diane is a 20th-century descendant of Angelina Jolie’s Olympias in “Alexander.” As Marc tells the fellow airline steward he brings home for the night, “My mother’s not a woman. I’m not sure what she is.”

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Even when she’s not on stage, Diane looks and acts theatrical beyond reason. Mother and son understand each other perfectly, but Diane, who lives for glamour and sophistication, refuses to accept that her only child aspires to a simpler lifestyle.

At the insistence of her best friend, the considerably more vulgar Alice (Eva Ionesco, hypnotically crass), Diane becomes semi-involved with the semi-suave Roland (Pierre-Loup Rajot). Meanwhile, Marc flies back and forth to Marrakesh, where he gets more than friendly with Dionys (Eliane Pine Carrington),a very gay Frenchman who’s as theatrical as Diane.

At first, pic looks as though it will be punishingly affected and stagy. However, the viewer is soon made to care for the ragtag assemblage of adults past their primes and young people living for the moment under the specter of AIDS. Dombasle, in designer duds and clingy confections whipped up by eccentric costumer Maud Molyneux, defies age, gravity and all other perceived enemies of the female form. Lensing is flattering.

When I’m a Star

France

  • Production: A Labyrinthe Distribution release of a Les Films du Labyrinthe, Arte France Cinema production, with participation of Canal Plus, CNC. Produced by Edith Colnel, Anne Singer, Patrick Mimouni. Directed by Patrick Mimouni. Screenplay, Mimouni, Yvan Fahl, Frederic Strauss.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Florent Montcouquiol, Vincent Buron, Celine Pagny; editor, Mimouni; music, Reno Isaac; costume designers, Maud Molyneux, Michele Rimbault, Eva Ionesco; sound (Dolby), Gerard Rousseau. Reviewed at Club Marbeuf screening room, Paris, Dec. 2, 2004. Running time: 114 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Arielle Dombasle, Yvan Fahl, Eva Ionesco, Pierre-Loup Rajot, Nini Crepon, Eliane Pine Carrington, Souhade Temimi, Jean-Philippe Guillon.
  • Music By: