Novelist-turned-helmer Saphia Azzeddine’s “My Father Is a Cleaning Lady” wants to be a contempo comedy of French socio-realist manners, but instead delivers a muddled combo of teen movie, father-son drama and banlieue pic that shows there’s more to the outskirts than racial strife and burnt-out cars. Francois Cluzet (“Tell No One”) plays the eponymous dad in a line of business usually reserved for female immigrants, but his simpatico perf is not enough to sustain interest in this 77-minute tale. Beyond French-language outlets, prospects look grubby.
Michel (Cluzet) is a cleaning-company employee who occasionally takes along his 14-year-old, Polo (Jeremie Duvall), to help with dusting duties in the evening. With a bedridden mom (Nanou Garcia) and ditzy blonde sister (Alison Wheeler), Polo prefers to hang out with his motley posse of buds, the banlieue equivalent of a Benetton ad. Direction is pedestrian, but the real problems are in the writing and editing; jumps in time (“two years later,” etc.) and p.o.v. shifts are arbitrary, and pic seems particularly clueless about the male problems discussed by father and embarrassed son. Other below-the-line contributions are TV-ready.