‘Girl From Monaco’ tries to be a thriller and a comedy

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, July 23, 2009 3:18pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

A new French film, “The Girl From Monaco,” would probably find better success as a straight thriller or as a screwball sex comedy. But it goes both ways, as it were.

Another French title, “Priceless,” did a similar thing last year. That worked much better than “The Girl From Monaco.” Still, what’s most interesting about this one is that it seems to be two different movies wrestling around inside the same sack.

The location you can guess from the title. A well-known lawyer from Paris, one Bertrand Beauvois (Fabrice Luchini), has come to ritzy Monaco to defend a wealthy widow (Stephane Audran) in a murder case.

Because the Russian mob is involved in the case, Bertrand has been assigned a bodyguard, Christophe (Roschdy Zem, from the awesome “Days of Glory”). This large, serious fellow will not be dissuaded by Bertrand’s insistence that he doesn’t really need a minder.

The two admire each other’s skills, and for a while it looks as though “The Girl From Monaco” might be another Gallic buddy movie. But remember the title, and cherchez la femme.

She is Audrey, who’s doing the weather for a Monaco TV station. Considering that she is a supermodel-caliber babe in her 20s, and Bertrand is clearly a man in his mid-50s, we might wonder for a while why she is pursuing him.

Could it have something to do with the mob? Christophe is certainly suspicious. But there’s no reasoning with Bertrand, who is (rather understandably) enjoying his little fling. And oh yes, there’s still a murder trial to argue.

Audrey is played by Louise Bourgoin in her film debut. It comes as absolutely no surprise that she actually was a TV weather girl, apparently quite popular in France, before she went over to acting.

She’s easily out-acted by the two men: Zem is deadpan but intriguing as the bodyguard, and Luchini (late of “Intimate Strangers” and “Moliere”), one of my favorite European actors, is exactly right as the cerebral lawyer.

Director Anne Fontaine doesn’t quite pull it off, especially a tricky shift in tone toward the end. But this messed-up movie is more entertaining than many more sensible jobs, and I like that about it.

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