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Rated PG-13 · 2007
Avenue Montaigne is a French souffle of the old school, a romantic comedy set in Paris' arty district, where neurotic writers and actors wring their manicured hands. For my money, charm comes altogether too easily to the French, and Gallic whimsy only serves to prop up infantile Anglo fantasies about the ceaseless glamour of la vie Parisienne. Still, I make an exception for Danièle Thompson, whose warmly irreverent fluff comes enlivened by her earthy refusal to take the cult of the artist at face value. Here, a television soap actress (Valerie Lemercier) obsesses about landing a movie role while a concert pianist (Albert Dupontel), exhausted by his punishing tour schedule, slips away to play to children with cancer and bumps into an old acquaintance, a cabbie turned art collector (Claude Brasseur) who's putting his multimillion-dollar collection up for auction. The Thompsons clearly know and love this neurotic milieu, but their sensibility is resolutely (and commercially) populist, and in short order a newly arrived country bumpkin (played by Cecile de France) is turned loose among these broody narcissists to act as both ministering angel and brisk reality check. Avenue Montaigne doesn't pretend to be deep, but given the tendency of current cinema to milk our glum mood for all it's worth -- I say we could use the break.

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