Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
From director Cedric Klapisch (L'Auberge Espagnole) comes the third film in the director's superb apartment trilogy, that is as lively as it is thoughtful with a colorful retro palate.
"Chinese Puzzle" follows the characters in the first "Russian Dolls. . Xavier (Romain Duris) is overwhelmed by his attempt at balancing the sensual and the cerebral. To make matters bad, Xavier has writer's block. To make them worse, his marriage of ten years to Wendy (Kelly Reilly) is now allé à merde. Where before she was warm now there is only cold formality.
Wendy tells Xavier that she has met another man, the generic John (Peter Hermann) and is taking the two kids.
Understandably, Xavier is devastated. He resolves to follow her to New York.
But nothing is easy. Xavier has no place to crash. After much rushing about. He finds comfort in old friend Isabelle (Cécile de France). Isabelle asks Xavier to be a sperm donor. She wants a child with Ju (Sandrine Holt). Xavier agrees and in return stays in Ju's college apartment.
In the city, Xavier is finding little leg room for opportunity as a non-citizen of the U.S.
One day, he is en route to visit his kids when the taxi driver (Phil Nee) gets into a violent altercation. Xavier calls the police and gets help.
Deeply in gratitude, the driver gives his blessing for a marriage for citizenship with Xavier and his daughter Nancy (Li Jun Li)
Xavier is a wreck.
He conjures conversation with Schopenhauer and Hegel.
To throw another wrench in the works, we have a former vixen (Audrey Tatou) who still has the hots for Xavier.
Romain Duris is a joy to watch having an interesting bemused quality that almost recalls Cary Grant in "North by Northwest."
Xavier is always running.
This prismatic and retro-looking film becomes a zany statement on the perils of immigration, and the positive change that can be made if an when we have a more workable policy, forged with sensitivity instead of suspicion.
The animated sequences are slick and lively and while some of the fugues recall early Woody Allen, the comic bits have meat. The legends are more than mere philosophic shades.
"Chinese Puzzle" is a blocked construction of vignettes in flashback that make a zany French counterpart to Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight." We have grown with the befuddled, bemused and breakneck Xavier. His contemplation on time along with the animated colors, will give your eyes a dazzle of joy and light thoughts that stay with you. Like the films of John Turturro, this "Chinese Puzzle" is of a New York deep in its happiness, where all problems are depicted in buoyancy and every eccentric (whether in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens ) works together.
Write Ian at email@example.com