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Change of Address

Eric Rohmer meets Woody Allen in "Change of Address," a comedy of manners that's Parisian to its fingertips. Though there's nothing exactly new here, pic is played with such charm, good humor and a quietly wacky sense of the absurd that it should slip easily into festival mailboxes and delight upscale auds in the usual theatrical salons.

With:
With: Emmanuel Mouret, Fanny Valette, Frederique Bel, Dany Brillant, Ariane Ascaride.

Eric Rohmer meets Woody Allen in “Change of Address,” a light comedy of emotional manners that’s Parisian to its fingertips. Though there’s nothing exactly new here, pic is played with such charm, good humor and a quietly wacky sense of the absurd that it should slip easily into festival mailboxes and delight upscale auds in the usual theatrical salons.

Most impressively, it confirms the talent that Mouret showed in his debut feature, “Laissons Lucie faire!” (2000), but let slip in his sophomore pic, “Lucie et Fleur” (2004). This third outing, with Mouret himself playing the nebbish central character, has the same blithe wit as “Lucie” but allied to a much tighter, more precisely crafted script.

Newly arrived in Paris to find work in professional orchestras, French hornist David (Mouret) is stopped in the street by ditzy blonde Anne (Frederique Bel) and asked if he’s looking to share an apartment. David, who has great difficulty saying no to anything, goes to look at the pad and Anne eventually ‘fesses up that his flatmate will actually be her.

Anne, who’s proud to have a nude photo of her mom on the wall, starts coming on to David from the off but goes all coy when he finally tries to jump her, claiming she has a boyfriend. (The truth is considerably more loco.) Meanwhile, David finds work privately tutoring Julia (Fanny Valette), the shy daughter of a bourgeoisie mom (Ariane Ascaride), and when he returns home tells Anne that he’s in lurrrve.

As well as constantly springing surprises as Mouret juggles his small cast, script is kept on the boil by never tarrying long over any development. After separately describing to each other their unconsummated passions, David and Anne end up in the sack together but quickly apologize the next morning and promise it’ll never happen again.

But she clearly likes him in her own weird way, and agrees to advise him on how to lasso the withdrawn Julia. Step one involves David inviting Julia for a weekend at the vacant seaside home of Anne’s family. But a chance meeting brings into the equation smooth restaurateur Julien (Dany Brillant), who appears to light Julia’s flame.

The subsequent rondo of emotional attachments, which also involves several changes of address, trips lightly along for a further 45 minutes to a hardly surprising but satisfying conclusion.

As in the films of Rohmer and Allen, the dialogue’s the thing and, though it’s practically wall to wall, there’s no sense of ever treading water. Cast couldn’t be better, and Mouret, though onscreen the whole time, always gives his fellow thesps the spotlight.

Lensing is unaffected but clean. Franck Sforza’s horn-concerto score, and excerpts from classical horn showcases, make a perfect companion to all the goings-on.

Change of Address

France

Production: A Shellac release of a Moby Dick Films, Les Films Pelleas, Les Films Velvet production, in association with Shellac. (International sales: Shellac, Paris.) Produced by Frederic Niedermayer. Directed, written by Emmanuel Mouret.

Crew: Camera (color), Laurent Desmet; editor, Martial Salomon; music, Franck Sforza; art director, David Faivre; sound (Dolby SR), Maxime Gavaudan, Ludovic Escalier. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors Fortnight), May 21, 2006. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Emmanuel Mouret, Fanny Valette, Frederique Bel, Dany Brillant, Ariane Ascaride.

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