Chinese Puzzle (Casse-Tete Chinois) (tbc)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byKatherine McLaughlin25/10/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running Time: 120 mins

This sweet and whimsical comedy from Cedric Klapisch sees his much loved character Xavier Rosseau move to the Big Apple to try his hand at living the American dream.

What’s it all about?
Novelist Xavier Rosseau is not having a good time of it: his wife has left him and moved to New York with his two children, so in a bid to be closer to them he sets up a new life in the States. Surrounded by the women who have defined him, his ex-wife Wendy, his best friend Isabelle (who asks him to donate sperm so she and her partner can have a child), and ex-girlfriend Martine he tries to work around the US immigration system to gain citizenship.

The Good
Klapisch has drawn a very likeable and compassionate character in Xavier as a good father, respectful of women, but full of frustrations at the complications life is full of. Instead of dwelling in despair he takes things in his own hands and heads to the USA, where the US immigration system gets taken down a peg or two and culture clashes between the French and Americans are handled in a light but truthful manner. There are also really sweet examples of modern day life with Xavier in his cramped bedroom watching The Simpsons with his kids on his laptop whilst scoffing a McDonalds.

A French family living the American dream is captured in one single shot: Romain Duris is joined by a fine female supporting cast including Audrey Tatou, Cecile De France, Kelly Rielly and Sandrine Holt who fit in perfectly with this charming tale of a man trying to solve the puzzle of his life. Isabelle’s (De France) thread of a lesbian woman trying to set up a family is a touching and resonant tale of arrested development, her messy love life, adding to the drama.

The Bad
Some of the humour doesn’t sit right and Xavier’s invisible advisor and philosopher Arthur Schopenhaur isn’t really used to his full potential being discarded and forgotten as the drama takes over.

Worth seeing?
Chinese Puzzle is a watchable and charming French comedy which breathes life back into some old acquaintances whose complicated and colourful lives make for amusing viewing.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 02:57

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