‘Looking for Hortense’ begins with the promise of another Kristin Scott Thomas acting masterclass. She plays Iva, a workaholic chain-smoking theatre director in Paris. We meet her sarkily rolling her eyes (as only KST can) as two young actors rehearse a love scene on stage with all the chemistry of drugged chiwawas. After the rehearsal, the guy actor (Arthur Igual) offers her a lift home and makes a pass in the car. Iva gives him a brush off – she’s taken. But she flashes a mysterious smile before going home to her partner and teenaged son.
That is the start of a film you’d want to watch. Instead, this disappointingly average French comedy-drama follows Iva’s partner, Damien (Jean-Pierre Bacri). He’s a dull, tombstone grey university professor. Iva’s brother has asked him to wangle a visa from his judge dad for a friend of a friend. And as his relationship with Iva crumbles he flirts with a kooky young waitress (Isabelle Carré). Scott Thomas wanders back from time to time to taunt us with what could have been. But this is a film that runs out of ideas almost before it gets going.