Finally, a movie about Catherine Deneuve driving around the French countryside! Emmanuelle Bercot’s lightweight, pleasingly low-key drama has a bit more narrative incident than that, though it does initially seem to be a muted, minimalist portrait. After learning that the man she’s pined for has no romantic interest, beauty contestant turned small-town restaurateur Bettie (Deneuve) impulsively walks out on her routinized life and begins a province-spanning search for cigarettes.
That’s pretty much all you get for the first engrossing hour, Deneuve looking gorgeously distressed and having misadventures with people she meets along the way. There’s impromptu therapy with a furniture-store security guard, and drunken sex with a studly young black marketeer. And have you ever wondered what the belle of Belle de Jour looks like in a neon-pink clown wig? Puzzle no more.
Eventually, a rather syrupy story presents itself, involving Bettie’s estranged daughter (monomonikered French pop artist Camille) and the temperamental grandson (Nemo Schiffman) whom our disenchanted protagonist takes under her wing. Family members fight and reconcile over delicious-looking regional cuisine, new romantic possibilities present themselves, and Deneuve swans through all the heartstring-plucking silliness like the ethereal superstar she is. There are worse things in life.
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