Merchant-Ivory’s previous jaunt to Paris, last year’s ‘Le Divorce’, lurched queasily between smug farce and shrill melodrama. Sadly, it hasn’t prevented their swift return for another Franco-American interchange of high-jinks and homicide. After 23-year-old Thomas (Stanislas Merhar), the closeted gay son of a gargoylish opera diva (Dianne Wiest), witnesses a murder, the lad stumbles into a psychiatrist’s office only to encounter a dithery actress (Jane Birkin) who has mistaken herself for Vanessa Redgrave, and who has also unexpectedly shared a room with a corpse. Various entangling alliances pull the curtain on family secrets and – incongruously for such a limp, smirky lark – a parade of sparkling supporting players, including Simon Callow and the real Ms Redgrave. Though she appears alone on the movie’s promo poster, Jerry Hall makes a brief, pointless cameo; more intriguing is the titular therapist, who in death bears a sepulchral, uncanny resemblance to one Margaret Thatcher.
Cast and crew