A French caper whose inspiration is worse-for-wear retrograde Hollywood, Sophie Marceau’s “Trivial,” which the French actress quietly co-wrote, directed and co-stars in, could have been called “Guilty Pleasure.” Despite a name cast and attractive poster, this riff on the suspenser genre was somewhat scorned in Gaul on release late May but was shown at the Montreal Fest Aug. 25 as part of a tribute to the estimable — and ever-fetching — thesp.
Lt. Jacques Renard (Christophe Lambert), whose look, from hair to garb, is Early Homeless, hasn’t slept well since his wife’s death and his own suicide attempt. A stunning Femme Fatale From Nowhere, seemingly inspired by Sean Young’s character in “Blade Runner,” advises him to drive across the photogenic bridge from Le Havre to Deauville to examine room 401 at the luxurious Hotel Riviera.
Hotel’s director of some 40 years, Antoine Berangere (vet Robert Hossein), has been missing for two days. His 39-year-old son, Camille (Nicolas Briancon), says there is no room 401, and Antoine’s wheelchair-bound second wife (Marie-Christine Barrault) seems guilty of something. Camille’s mother Victoria (Marceau, in a nice series of mockups), who was an actress and covergirl, died exactly 36 years ago.
There’s a horribly disfigured body in the morgue that everyone agrees must be Antoine. Everyone, that is, except Jacques, whose loyal fellow cop, Pierre (Simon Abkarian), tries to convince him to stop stirring up trouble.
Intrigue galore ensues, including a not-half-bad car chase against traffic.
“Trivial” is the kind of film where there’s always a telltale photo or video lying around to inspire the characters to fly off the handle or connect a dot or two. And although ends appear to be dangling like power lines after a storm, there is an eventual explanation for, well, everything.
Thesps are obviously having fun, the score is a definite plus and Deauville’s Hotel Normandy fetchingly stands in for the fictional Hotel Riviera. Lambert and Marceau’s reportedly real-life romance adds another pleasing layer.
It took gumption by Marceau to give her endearingly uneven film the English title “Trivial.” French original translates as “The Missing Person of Deauville.”