FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: Lady Jane

French genre-skipper Robert Guédiguian turns his roving eye to the thriller with 'Lady Jane', an icy vengeance drama turning twists in Marseille.
FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: Lady Jane
French genre-skipper Robert Guédiguian turns his roving eye to the thriller with Lady Jane, an icy vengeance drama turning twists in Marseille. Ariane Ascaride is Muriel, single mother et parfumeur whose ostensibly ordinary existence is sharply interrupted by the abduction of her teenage son (Giuseppe Selimo). For reasons not immediately evident, enlisting the aid of the law is strictly no-go, so the desperate Muriel seeks out two erstwhile acquaintances: listlessly hitched boatyard proprietor, François (Jean-Pierre Daroussin), and René (Gerard Meylan), aging lothario and peddler of pokies. The triumvirate reunited, moves are made to secure the safe return of her snatched sprog – then the ensuing wild goose chase explodes into bloody tragedy. Guédiguian’s noir-ish crime riddle best rewards a lenient audience uninterested in unwinding its plentiful plot coils prematurely. Shooting from a script co-authored with Jean-Louis Milesi, the filmmaker unpacks an intensely past-tethered narrative via the inclusion of numerous flashbacks (spliced in with varying degrees of finesse), misguidedly hanging his final act on a forcedly assumed element of surprise. Any viewer with peepers peeled and mind set to anything more attentive than ‘DEAD’ will have most pieces in place well before the director reroutes for his concluding expositional reveal, but the mechanics of mystery are only a part of the picture, and Guédiguian proves better attuned to whims of his characters. His principal trio (all Guédiguian regulars) inhabit their dour-pussed players with a wearied complexity, moustachioed beanpole Daroussin coming off best thanks to François’ melancholic emotional intricacies. While proficient enough, this is never as deep as it thinks it is, nor is it sufficiently absorbing to offer the dippy amusement of recent compatriot, Roman de Gare. In striving for profundity (right down to the Armenian proverb that heralds the credits), Guédiguian has turned in a thriller low on intrigue that’s as glacial as its wintry surrounds. DIRECTOR: Robert Guédiguian SCREENWRITERS: Robert Guédiguian and Jean-Louis Milesi CAST: Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Daroussin, Gerard Meylan RATING: MA15+ RUN TIME: 104 minutes

Gerard Elson

Friday 27 February, 2009

About the author

Gerard Elson is a Melbourne-based writer. He occasionally blogs at http://celluloidtongue.wordpress.com.