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See the Sea

A sun-dappled, too loose-limbed road movie only moderately spiced up by that ever-dependable Gallic institution, the insouciant menage-a-trois.

Acclaimed French helmer Patrice Leconte (“Man on the Train,” “Intimate Strangers”) seems, perhaps intentionally, to have unlearned his decades of filmmaking experience for “See the Sea,” a sun-dappled, too loose-limbed road movie only moderately spiced up by that ever-dependable Gallic institution, the insouciant menage-a-trois. However, rather than fresh, and despite a sensual and convincing cast, the film simply feels undisciplined. French media interest was fueled by the helmer’s recent autobiography, which suggested he’d retired. But without a similar marketing hook abroad, only some film-week action is likely before the pic ends up wherever generic, sexy French movies go to die.

Hunky brothers Clement (Clement Sibony) and Nicolas (Nicolas Giraud) travel from inland Burgundy to seaside town Saint-Jean-de-Luz with a sprightly, short-haired blonde (Pauline Lefevre) in tow. She’s never seen the sea, and they’re on their way to visit their ill mother. (“Mer” in the French title sounds like both “sea” and “mother.”) Helmer’s anything-goes attitude extends to its episodic screenplay (Leconte’s first original solo effort), hand-held and artily out-of-focus camerawork and random narrative ideas, including an extremely clumsy pursuit of the trio by the girl’s grotesque ex-husband (Gilles Cohen).

See the Sea

France

  • Production: An Ocean Films release of a Produire a Paris production, in association with StudioCanal and France 2 Cinema. Produced by Charles Gassot. Directed, written by Patrice Leconte.
  • Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Jean-Marie Dreujou; editor, Joelle Hache; production designer, Ivan Maussion; costume designer, Annie Perier Bertaux. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite, Paris, May 4, 2011. Running time: 91 MIN.
  • With: With: Pauline Lefevre, Clement Sibony, Nicolas Giraud, Gilles Cohen, Jacques Mathou, Urbain Cancelier, Laurent Gendron.
  • Music By: