You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Venice Film Review: ‘Lolo’

Low-brow antics get in the way of a fertile comic premise in the sixth feature written and directed by Julie Delpy.

Dany Boon, Julie Delpy, Vincent Lacoste, Karin Viard, Antoine Lounguine, Christophe Vandevelde, Elise Larnicol, Fabienne Galula, Karl Lagerfeld, Frederic Beigbeder. (French, English dialogue)

In “Lolo,” Julie Delpy’s sixth and most brazenly commercial effort as a writer-director, the helmer plays an uptight Parisian sophisticate drawn into a long-term love affair with an earnest provincial rube (Dany Boon), while her teenage son, Lolo (Vincent Lacoste), does everything he can to spoil the relationship. His character serves the same function within the film as well, taking what could have been a broad yet sweetly believable comic meditation on cross-cultural middle-aged romance, and dragging it down with flatly staged, sometimes downright infantile low-brow antics. Well cast and funny just often enough to recommend, the film has every shot at snaring a decent audience in France, though international markets will be tough to crack.

Nearing the end of a long holiday in Biarritz, flustery fortysomething fashion exec Violette (Delpy) has yet to fully relax. Deciding that a one-night stand is just what she needs, she joins up with tart-tongued best friend, Ariane (Karin Viard, successfully constructing a Gallic Samantha Jones with just a few scenes), who vows to help her find a local man who might “clean her chimney” for her. (Delpy’s gleeful employment of middle-school sexual metaphors is both odd and strangely charming.)

She locates her chimney sweep in fellow divorcee Jean-Rene (Boon), an endearingly naive local computer programmer. To her surprise, she ends up falling for him, and the two plan to resume dating once he moves to Paris for a work opportunity. Flash-forward a few weeks to their reunion, and Jean-Rene is uneasily adjusting to big-city life: hopelessly navigating traffic, suckered into buying a chintzy high-rise apartment with a tilt-and-you-miss-it Eiffel Tower view, and always showing up in the wrong clothes for every occasion. Yet his biggest obstacle is Lolo, Violette’s intensely possessive 19-year-old son, who abruptly returns to live in his mom’s no-longer-empty nest after a breakup.

While his character will soon take the film into some Sandlerian directions, Lacoste is hardly to blame. Recently seen playing a Daft Punk member in Mia Hansen-Love’s “Eden,” the actor here looks more like a Justice wannabe: A cocksure and condescending aspiring artist, he affects a leather-jacketed Don Juan image in public while shamelessly soliciting his mom’s indulgence back home. His early interactions with Jean-Rene are well-played sallies of subtle psychological brinksmanship — urging him to overelaborate on dull topics over dinner, sarcastically nicknaming him J.R. — but once the interloper starts becoming a permanent fixture, Lolo declares all-out war.

At this point, “Lolo’s” loosey-goosey grip on reality gives way, as this overgrown problem child puts itching powder in Jean-Rene’s clothes, drugs his drink at a fancy party, recruits a pair of Slovakian hookers to climb into bed with him, and finally plots a nuclear option that pushes the film into full-on farce. And farce would be fine if the slapstick payoffs were as uproarious as their lengthy setups demand, yet Delpy gets far more laughs out of her throwaway one-liners than her laboriously orchestrated setpieces. The Duplass brothers tackled a nearly identical conflict in 2010’s “Cyrus,” and while that film had its flaws, it clearly saw that the scenario’s richest comic potential lay in moments of obtuse Oedipal oddity rather than high-concept hijinks. Delpy simply plays the wrong hand here.

Though the true cast standouts are Lacoste and Viard — both of whom appeared in Delpy’s best feature, 2011’s sadly undersung “Skylab” — “Lolo’s” leads have a number of scenes together that suggest what a winning film this could have been had it settled into a lower register. Playing a decidedly different type of hick than his starmaking role in “Welcome to the Sticks,” Boon manages to be lovably bumbling while still giving off enough charm to make Violette’s attraction to him believable. Delpy’s character, oddly enough, is less well defined, lurching from icy cosmopolitan to big-hearted nurturer to flailing neurotic from one scene to the next, but as always, the actress makes it work.

Venice Film Review: 'Lolo'

Reviewed at Creative Artists Agency, Los Angeles, Aug. 31, 2015. (In Venice Film Festival — Venice Days; Toronto Film Festival — Gala Presentations.) Running time: 97 MIN.

Production: (France) A The Film, France 2 Cinema, Mars Films, Wild Bunch production in association with Manon 5, Cinemage 9, La Banque Postale, Image 8, Apidev 4. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Michael Gentile.

Crew: Directed by Julie Delpy. Screenplay, Delpy, Eugenie Grandval. Camera (color), Thierry Arbogast; editor, Virginie Bruant; music, Mathieu Lamboley; music supervisor, Matthieu Sibony; production designer, Emmanuelle Duplay; costume designer, Pierre-Yves Gayraud; sound, Pierre Excoffier; assistant director, Alan Corno; casting, Nicolas Ronchi.

With: Dany Boon, Julie Delpy, Vincent Lacoste, Karin Viard, Antoine Lounguine, Christophe Vandevelde, Elise Larnicol, Fabienne Galula, Karl Lagerfeld, Frederic Beigbeder. (French, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content