Friday, February 21, 2014

Girl on a Bicycle (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Girl on a Bicycle” An Object of Desire

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Watching “Girl on a Bicycle” I’m reminded of the title of that classic film by Luis Buñuel, “Cet obscur objet du désir.” That translates as “That Obscure Object of Desire.”

That’s what a girl on a bicycle becomes when an Italian tour bus driver named Paolo (Vincenzo Amato) bumps into her. Literally.

No matter that he’s just become engaged to his longtime girlfriend Greta (Nora Tschirner), a German flight attendant.

After watching the pretty French model flitting around a picture-postcard Paris on her Velo, Paolo is infatuated. And when she winds up in the hospital due to the bus mishap, he pretends to be her husband in order to visit her there.

Reality sets in when Paolo discovers that she’s a single mother with no one to watch the kids. So he winds up playing man of the house while Cecile (Louise Monot) recovers, looking after this passel of children who begin calling him “Papa.”

Meanwhile, he has his fiancé to juggle. Not so easy as she starts to get suspicious of his unexplained absences.

Can Paolo survive this double life of deceit?

The idea is that we’ll be amused watching him try in this old-school romantic comedy.

Vincenzo Amato plays his character as fumbling and clueless. Nora Tschirner fumes nicely. And Louise Monot mostly has to look pretty as the object of desire. Paddy Considine pops up as a friend who dispenses bad relationship advice.

That said, “Girl on a Bicycle” needs a little more air in its tires. Director Jeremy Leven works hard to keep us engaged in this loopy tale of a man whose straying eye gets him in a pickle. But this stereotypical premise of romanticizing duplicitous behavior seems flat at times.

Or maybe we’re simply expecting more from the director who gave us the brilliant comedy “Don Juan DeMarco” with Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando. Admittedly, that’s a hard act to follow.

In the twenty years between these two films, Levin has fared well as a screenwriter, with such credits as “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” “The Notebook,” and “Real Steel.”

Jeremy Levin and his psychotherapist wife divide their time between Connecticut, New York, and Paris. I wonder if she eyes him carefully when a pretty girl on a bicycle rides by on the Champs-Élysées.

No comments: