Frequently writers rely on “Webster or Oxford” to crush the roadblocks stymieing mental acuity, a cowardly crutch; but as I watched “Chinese Puzzle” laughing uproariously, surrounded by a modestly mute audience, surreptitiously looking at me, questioning my tenuous grip on reality; it struck me with tsunami velocity that “humor” is profoundly subjective. So, like a multitude before me, I checked “humor” in the dictionary: funny, jest, ludicrous, satire, a plethora of words but none that nailed or encapsulated the essence of ticklish, farcical, hilarity; humor is personal, some have a “sense” of it, others don’t; but laughter is infectious and the ultimate emotional cure for glumness; “Chinese Puzzle” is a slice of life that is real, warm and in two scenes its tentacles squeezed to the breaking point, my funny bone.
The final chapter in director/writer Cedric Klapisch’s trilogy (“L’Auberge Espagnole”, “Russian Dolls”); protagonists are now approaching forty: “Xavier” (slight, scruffy, scintillating Romain Duris) a modestly successful novelist, he moves from Paris to New York to be close to his children; Kelly Reilly, as ex-wife “Wendy”, flimsy character development lends minimal substance to the film; Cecile deFrance is absolutely exhilarating as “Isabelle” pregnant, philandering, positively enhancing every scene. But the force and glory of the film revolves around Audrey Tautou’s portrayal of “Martine”, one-time lover of Xavier; vacationing, she nestles, along with her two children, in Xavier’s tiny domicile, in the epicenter of Chinatown. Tautou’s impeccable comedic timing rests comfortably with the stars.
Clever use of animation and imaginative conversations with philosophers: Hegel, Erasmus, Schopenhauer, add to the light-hearted gaiety and the hectic pace of the narrative; but what sealed my admiration was the empathetic, endearing relationship between Xavier and his children (“Lucas” and “Jade”); love, kindness, understanding ooze tenderly with their every encounter.
I will see this film again, solely for the mood it put me in!
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!
Thank you for the review! Will run to see the film! I understand the feeling you described. In Spanish, French or Italian films I have often found myself laughing while the rest of the audience “does not get it”, often it is bad translation! Or like in your case, the humor is not understood
Can’t wait to see the film, and a fabulous cast!
Let me know as soon as you see it!!! P.
I loved your blog article. Really Cool. ecafdedbabdd
Thank you and keep commenting! P.
I just saw the film and agree with you Peneflix! It made me smile, laugh and love life!
Fabulous acting by the whole cast, including the Chinese taxi driver!
Thanks for your recommendation! We need more films like this one!
French and Italian films never cease to please me! Knew this one had your name on it! P.