In 2002, Cédric Klapisch made the ultimate European flick in the shape of ‘Pot Luck’, an entertaining comedy drama that revolved around an assortment of internationals sharing a flat in Barcelona. ‘Russian Dolls’ sees the writer-director return to the same territory, revisiting a collection of characters who have become older but not necessarily wiser in the intervening years. Once again, Frenchman Xavier (Romain Duris) takes centre-stage, his disappointing career as a sell-out screenwriter tempered by his increasingly tangled love-life. Dividing his time between a gaggle of gorgeous girls, Xavier struggles with the grim reality of hitting 30 and facing a future with neither love nor purpose in his life.
A witty and perceptive script shows that Klapsich has matured as a writer, but the same cannot be said of his quirky direction, which seems strangely self-conscious this time around. The two-hour film also comes close to outstaying its welcome, yet by the time the main players reconvene in Russia for a joyous wedding celebration, one can’t help but be swept away by the joie de vivre of it all.