Cannes Film Review: ‘The Rendez-vous of Deja Vu’

Late 1960s anarchic social humor is one of several jumping-off points for Antonin Peretjatko’s wearily frenetic Franco-farce.

The Rendez-vous of Deja Vu Review

Late-1960s anarchic social humor is one of several jumping-off points for Antonin Peretjatko’s wearily frenetic Franco-farce “The Rendez-vous of Deja Vu.” Other touchstones include Godard, Jacques Rozier and even Monty Python, the latter especially manifest in the way gags pile up within skits, arguably a holdover from Peretjatko’s previous work as a shorts helmer. Broadly playing off the economic crisis and the Gallic sanctity of the summer holidays, the pic will tickle French funny bones on the political left but is too locally nudge-nudge-wink-wink to play offshore; even fests are unlikely takers.

The French title, which translates as “The July 14th Girl,” has clearer connotations than the nonsensical English-lingo moniker, which appears onscreen after a sped-up montage of July 14th celebrations from the last two presidential administrations, featuring Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande, and various soldiers whose jerky marching recalls toy legionnaires in some Mittel-European operetta. Wandering through the crowds, hawking copies of leftist broadsheet La Commune, is Truquette (Vimala Pons), whose name is more or less equal to “Thingie,” and whose resemblance to Jean Seberg selling the New York Herald Tribune in “Breathless” is purely tangential.

Museum guard Charlotte (Marie-Lorna Vaconsin) helps set up Truquette with fellow guard Hector (Gregoire Tachnakian). Together with bogus doctor Pator (Vincent Macaigne), they all go on vacation together during the usual monthlong holidays most of France has come to expect. They’re joined by Charlotte’s randy brother, Bertier (Thomas Schmitt), but as the road trip begins, the government announces it’s curtailing summer breaks as a cost-saving measure to counter the country’s economic woes. The group splits in two, with everyone trying to make the most of their shortened vacation.

The episodic nature of the anarchic plot allows for the introduction of various side characters, such as ultra-hyper Dr. Placenta (Serge Trinquecoste), whose name is unnecessarily translated in the subtitles as “Dr. Afterbirth.” While some will be amused by the madcap nature of it all, others, especially offshore viewers, are more likely to be worn down by Peretjatko’s self-indulgence. Audiences hoping for intelligent satirical jibes at the global crisis or the similarities between Sarkozy and Hollande should look elsewhere.

Playing around with the frame rate certainly increases the pic’s manic qualities, but the device, combined with often underwhelming gags, can induce unwelcome flashbacks to “Love, American Style.” The use of 16mm stock furthers the sense of a post-1968 burlesque, made stronger by a cutesy and extensive use of musical snippets in keeping with a postmodernist take on Nixonian satires.

Cannes Film Review: ‘The Rendez-vous of Deja Vu’

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight), May 23, 2013. Running time: 88 MIN. Original title: "La fille du 14 juillet"

  • Production: (France) A Shellac release of an Ecce Films production, in association with Sofica Cinemage 6. (International sales: Ecce Films, Paris.) Produced by Emmanuel Chaumet.
  • Crew: Directed, written by Antonin Peretjatko. Camera (color, 16mm-to-DCP), Simon Roca; editors, Carole Le Page, Peretjatko; production designer, Erwan Le Gal; costume designer, Astrid Deckherr; sound (Dolby 5.1), Julien Brossier, Julien Roiget, Martial De Roffignac; casting, Valerie Pangrazzi.
  • With: Vimala Pons, Gregoire Tachnakian, Vincent Macaigne, Marie-Lorna Vaconsin, Serge Trinquecoste, Thomas Schmitt, Esteban, Philippe Gouin, Lucie Borleteau, Pierre Merejkowsky, Claude Sanchez, Yoann Rey, Albert Delpy, Bruno Podalydes, Thomas Ruat, Thomas Vernant.