Sony // 2009 // 104 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // October 21st, 2010
"The commonplace and the mundane can lead to...To what? That's what we'll see."
There's something tragic lurking in Wild Grass (Les Herbes Folles in its original French), even if it's got the candy-coated stylistic look of Pushing Daisies. Perhaps an ominous note crept into the opening narration, or maybe it's the Mark Frost (Twin Peaks) score. I doubt the exact disaster will come to mind, but Wild Grass does eventually live up to that chilling promise.
Based on the novel L'incident and directed by Alain Resnais, Wild Grass' twists start off with a small incident. Marguerite's (Sabine Azéma, Private Fears in Public Places) purse is snatched as she leaves a shoe store. Georges (André Dussollier, Life is a Bed of Roses) finds Marguerite's wallet by his car in the parking garage and is fascinated. After all, she's got a pilot's license, and he once wanted to learn how to fly. Eventually, the wallet is returned to Marguerite and she calls Georges to thank him. He's angry and brusque that she doesn't want to thank him in person. Thinking better of it, Georges writes a note of apology, which doesn't go well.
The movie's about awkwardness; both Georges and Marguerite are very awkward people. Thus you'll sympathize with them at times, and think they're both nuts at others. That's Resnais' design, and Dussollier and Azéma pull it off expertly, creating human characters even as something minor spins out of control. It's both amusing and sad to watch Georges rehearse his phone call to Marguerite to return the wallet, or dentist Marguerite hurting patients because she's thinking about Georges. Resnais (Life is a Bed of Roses) aids the effort, using narration and camera tricks to give viewers a glimpse of the inner workings of his characters' minds.
The main extra is a brief "Portrait of Production Designer Jacques Salnier." Salnier talks about Resnais' love of sets and shows off the city street created in a studio for the movie, even comparing its brightly lit cinema to the relatively drab real cinema it was modeled after. This only served to make me wonder if a more realistic look would have added another layer to the awkwardness of real life. There's also a trailer.
If you're looking for a good French comedy, check out Wild Grass.
Not guilty, by reason of insanity.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG