Ah, the strands that make up the glorious—if perhaps a tad monochromatic—tapestry that is arty, wealthy Paris! There’s Jacques (Brasseur), an art collector about to sell all his holdings; Jean-Franois (Dupontel), a concert pianist plagued by metaphysical doubts about his life; and Catherine (Lemercier), a TV star rehearsing a Feydeau play. The glue that holds them and the plot together is Jessica (De France, overworking her sunny gamine shtick), a waitress at the restaurant where this beau monde eats.
Love is in the air, obviously, and so is the smell of mothballs. Fans of Diane Johnson’s books (Le Divorce) may fetishize the Paris depicted in Avenue Montaigne, but at times it feels like a diorama of bourgeois natives.
Thank heaven for Lemercier, who waltzes off with the film; the subplot in which Catherine tries to talk American director Brian Sobinski (Sydney Pollack) into letting her play Simone de Beauvoir in his Jean-Paul Sartre movie should be spun off into its own feature. Filmmaker Danile Thompson cowrote classic comedies such as The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (1973) for her father, director Grard Oury. She should have followed his central commandment: Never mind sentimentality, trust the funny. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Elisabeth Vincentelli