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Russian Dolls (Unrated)

Release Date: May 10th, 2006 (IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by IFC Films.
The Cast: Romain Duris, Kelly Reilly, Audrey Tautou, Cécile de France, Kevin Bishop, Evguenya Obraztsova, Irene Montalà, Gary Love, Lucy Gordon.
Directed by Cédric Klapisch.

BASIC PREMISE: Xavier (Duris) reunites with his old friends, Wendy (Reilly), Martine (Tautou), Isabelle (de France) and William (Bishop).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Russian Dolls lacks the humor and freshness found in its predecessor from 2002, L’Auberge Espagnole. Xavier comes across as dull and mean as he bounces around like “Alfie” from woman to woman, including Wendy, Isabelle, Martine and new women whom he meets throughout his travels. But what do all these women see in him? He’s basically a superficial, naïve man—not a Don Juan. Hugh Grant could pull off a role like that, but Durais just irritating with no charm to spare. It’s not easy to care about him in his search for true love when he’s so consistently unlikable and self-centered. In a more interesting and focused subplot, Xavier’s brother William falls in love with a Russian ballet dancer and, after she leaves with her dancing tour, he learns a little Russian before tracking her down. Writer/director Cédric Klapisch weaves all of the relationships with no surprises and redundant, clichéd scenes showing Xavier’s naïve behavior toward women. On a positive note, the musical score is quite good and, moreover, what makes this film mildly engaging is the lively supporting cast of women—especially the radiant Cécile de France, who starred in High Tension and Kelly Reilly.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The basic message is that a self-centered individual such as Xavier has a difficult time finding true love or, for that matter, any long-term relationship. Also, true friends always stick together no matter what. Although predictable, the feel-good ending is satisfying.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A clichéd, redundant plot with a boring main character.


IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining, but not nearly as fresh and funny as L’Auberge Espagnole.


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