Thursday, 10 July 2014

Chinese Puzzle - review

Chinese Puzzle is the third part in a trilogy of films by Cedric Klapisch that follows the central character Xavier (Romain Duris) through his life and relationships that feature more pieces and are infinitely more complicated than a Magic Eye jigsaw.

Retaining the same cast that featured in Pot Luck aka L'Auberge Espagnole and Russian Dolls and spanning 14 years and numerous locations, it has a similar vibe to the Before Trilogy with their examination of love and gimmick of having the male character turn his romantic conquests into successful works of fiction.

I have not seen the first two films in the trilogy but the opening fifteen minutes or so are spent going over what has happened in the near ten year gap between the last two films which went some way to filling in the blanks and getting newbies up to speed.

Xavier is divorced and has moved to New York in order to be in his children's lives, is staying in the flat of his best friend, a lesbian who he donated sperm to so she could have a baby with her partner, marries a Chinese-American woman to gain citizenship whilst having casual sex with former girlfriend Martine (Tautou).

If that sounds like the set up for a good old-fashioned farce then you would be right as all the various plot threads come together in a funny climax.

It is truly an ensemble piece with excellent performances from the entire cast and the character of New York is given a fresh spin thanks to being viewed from an outsiders perspective.

Chinese Puzzle is an honest and sweet tale of love but having missed two pieces in Pot Luck and Russian Dolls it was impossible to truly appreciate the big picture.

3 stars

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