You won't be disappointed!
Thanks for the memories!
Fun premise, good actors, bad writing. This film seemed to have potential at the beginning but it quickly devolves into a trite action film. Ultimately it's very boring.
One of the worst ways to make a cult movie is to set out to make a cult movie.
Que no me toque un alto delante
A very fresh and current plot. With a lively back and forth between the first person's "off" thoughts and concrete dialogue between characters. The actors Duris and Tautou nail their papers, although it is not a job to highlight. The rest does well. In tune with its trilogy's predecessors ("L'auberge espagnole" and "The Russian Dolls") Kaplisch gives us a very entertaining, very fresh comedy with a seal undoubtedly French. This time, we see the characters through the crisis of the 40s (or late 30s). I think that Klapisch could very well summarize the "evils" afflicting this generation at this historic moment, resulting in a film that becomes very close, with situations that can happen to anyone and very relatable characters. OK, yes ....it's a little strange that everything happens to him, but I think the situations are very possible in the world today, and are synthesized in a character in a few months (allowed for the sake of comic effect) . With very funny moments and others flatter, I think achieves the goal. It is not an awesome movie, but recommended for a very pleasant time.
What I did not realise when watching this was the fact that this is the third in a long running trilogy with the films 'Pot Luck' and 'Russian Dolls' being the previous films all directed by Cedric Klapisch.When reading of this revelation after I viewed the film, it made perfect sense as to why there were pictures of the characters in three stages of ageing in the opening credit sequence and why there are characters who drop into the film suddenly like we are supposed to know them. However, as a person who did not see the two previous films, I did get to know the many characters quite well and I did care about them in what I thought was a surprisingly enjoyable film.Romain Duris stars as Xavier, a man whose relationship with Wendy (Kelly Reilly) ends. Wendy meets a man in New York and takes the children with her. Xavier makes a snap decision to move to New York to be with his kids. He initially stays with his lesbian friend Isabelle (Cecile De France) who moved to New York to be with her lover, Ju (Sandrine Holt), who is also having an affair with her babysitter who is also named Isabelle (Flore Bonaventura). Also, Xavier's past lover, Martine (Audrey Tautou) keeps dropping into New York for work related reasons and meets up with Xavier a few times. Could they start to re-kindle what they had before?The great thing about Chinese Puzzle is it's portrait of New York which it shows in all it's racial and sexual diversity, but not feeling forced or annoyingly politically correct. It felt more like this is the reality of New York being the crowded and multi cultural city that it is. It is refreshing to see New York portrayed in that way as opposed to post card aesthetics used by many, especially Woody Allen. It also shows the difficulties Xavier faces trying to stay in New York and fitting into a strange city. He meets interesting people, gets cash in hand jobs as his holiday visa deems it illegal for him to be in employment, and he gets married to an Asian-American girl in order to stay in the country. It is compelling to watch his character settle in, develop and grow in his new place of residence and how he gets involved with the main characters around him in these intertwining stories. The stories were interesting and it had me routing for the characters, who despite their flaws, are genuinely believable and likable characters. What did end up annoying me about the film was the fact that it went for the cliché narrative-within-a-narrative structure. While the story is unfolding, Xavier is writing a book about his experiences and his agent is commenting on his ideas. When the story threads culminate into a last minute dash to get the girl who is taking a bus out of New York for good, the agent comments on how the ending is too happy and cliché. For me, this self awareness is worse than just having the cliché ending. For the most part, it was enjoyable and it meant well.Check out my film review blog - www.projectionistreview.wordpress.com
Beyond the talent of the cast and the director, i really like this trilogy because it's the only movies in which i can say that my life is on screen : maybe i'm a bit narcissistic, but it's above all wonderful to have an exterior view on his own life : Thus, like the movie, i'm also a Xavier, a civil servant for the Ministry of finances, my heart is also in writing (take a look of my reviews!) and my best friends come from my European experience ! However if i was thinking that the parallels were over and that the 2 movies have said it all, this new one manages to surprise me in exposing again my actual feelings : I'm going to reach 40 and i haven't find my « B » destination yet : I have crashed on a relationship and I target to go to NYC. So his trip in NYC was like a repeat of my future travel and it was a lot better than its relative « Nous York ». Sure, it's not again the glamor, postcards version of the city but Klapish is very inventive and uses all the modern technology to make NYC alive and fun ! He really have understood NYC as he has the same point of view of Frank Miller, the comics master : NYC is about verticality ! And i really like how he can live in a poor accommodation as i have got exactly the same in Paris ! After this good start, the movie is almost a remake of « Green Card » but for me the difference is that Xavier is sincere and honest in his feeling of being lost : so, his life is complicated because he just doesn't understand it. But, the movie is helpful as it mirrors again my reading : the meaning of life is to commit to a dream and makes it happen by taking initiative, thus by making choices. Again, it's funny to see that i'm also torn to make a decisive choice for my future but so far, i'm still stuck in indecision. As the previous movie, my past colleague was also with me and if he isn't a Xavier being a happy husband and father, this movie speaks also to him as he was dubious about a gay family : As he told it, this movie was also excellent in this theme because it doesn't judge bur rather invite to debate. Beyond our personal beliefs, this movie is a must-see because it just tell a simple story in a very funny way and is as deep and rich in its content than its visual (voice-over, reality blur, split screen, animation
). Romain is still as good (maybe the only difference with me is that he's told to be good looking, that was also the appreciation of my Swedish friend) and Tautou was maybe less cold as she was moving as a crying mother in travel learning that her child is ill at home (i witnessed the same situation and the reaction was totally opposite !). So, Xavier, I hope to see you at fifty to check up if we have done at last something of our live !
* Warning: Spoilers. Also, I went and saw this film without first having seen the trailer. I recommend you not watch the trailer before you see this film if you don't want to know anything. *First of all, I think the title of the film is genius. Literally, it means Chinese "broken head" which is translated into "Chinese Puzzle", ie it's a puzzle that drives you so crazy it breaks your head. It is obvious they wanted to keep the theme of having an adjective related to a country/culture - Spanish youth hostel, Russian dolls, Chinese puzzle... The only difference is this time no part of the film is set in China. If you google "casse tête chinois" it's one of those wooden puzzles where all the pieces have to fit together in the right way and in the right order. Xavier (Romain Duris), now 40, says his life is a mess and he wonders how he got to this point, where the pieces are obviously NOT in the right order nor in the right place. He recounts his touching, funny and personal story over the past few years through Skype interviews with his book publisher (he is writing a book based on his life).I have seen the first two films but it has been so long ago that I cannot remember the story lines. It is not necessary IMHO to have seen them but it would help you have a deeper understanding of the main characters and their development. Fans of either the first two films will be delighted to see the actresses Audrey Tautou, Cécile De France and Kelly Reilly reprise their roles as Martine, Isabelle and Wendy. I felt that maybe the director (Cédric Klapisch) wanted to capitalize on the success and popularity of Audrey Tautou with foreigners by putting her in the film as much as possible. In the first few minutes of the film the protagonist mentions going from point A to point B in life. What I feel is that life is so easy in your 20s (their ages in the first film) where everybody starts at the same point, at point A. In your 30s people's lives tend to go down different paths, marriages, singledom, divorces, kids or no kids, gay/lesbianism, there is no one set path and nobody can predict what will happen in your life from your late 20s onwards. I guess the film is trying to show that it's OK not to have a 'perfect' life and that there are happy relationships of all different kinds.Apart from the main topic of romantic relationships, the film also briefly touches on parent-child relationships and features Xavier's children but also his parents in 2 short separate scenes. I don't feel that these scenes would have been missed if taken out but I am glad they were in there because when you get to the age where you have kids or 'should be' having kids you think about your own parents a lot, their relationship with each other and to you. The scene with his father was really sweet but I won't give it away what it was.And so, Xavier is now married to Wendy (and has been for the past 10 years) and has 2 children with her. Their relationship is on the rocks and one day Wendy announces she has met a new man in New York and wants to move there, immediately, with the children. Xavier, therefore, has no choice but to give up his life in Paris and to join them in New York to stay in regular contact with his young children.This brings up a whole new set of problems for him such as finding housing, slight language issues, finding a job, how to stay in the country legally for a long period of time... as someone who has moved overseas (several times) I found this aspect highly interesting and it shows the young people these days, are more than ever, globally mobile and willing to overcome hardships and obstacles in an effort to start a new life elsewhere.There are many new characters and actors introduced into this third film of the trilogy and together they create an interesting patchwork for the plot. There are also many Chinese (Chinese American) characters in this film and Chinatown is featured often too, strengthening the multiple meanings behind the title. There is also a hilarious scene where Audrey speaks Chinese.I won't go on much further other than to say that it's a much see! 10/10 for me. If you enjoyed the previous two in the series, or enjoy films that you can really relate to, full of funny, sweet and poignant moments, this is definitely one not to miss.