For every big-budget saccharine romp that comes out of France, we need an Agnès Jaoui film to remind us that the French can do cynicism too. The writer-director-actress is responsible for some of the wittiest, most barbed French social comedies of the last decade – just watch 2004’s ‘Look at Me’. Her latest, another study of bourgeois Parisians loving and misunderstanding each other, offers more of the same, but with less subtlety.
Departing from the strict realism of Jaoui’s earlier work, ‘Under the Rainbow’ frames its story with a string of wink-wink references to well-known fairy tales. It’s a clunky contrivance, sitting uncomfortably alongside some of the film’s other aesthetic choices (why is that Gil Scott-Heron tune on the soundtrack?). Elsewhere, Jaoui and co-screenwriter Jean-Pierre Bacri’s debt to Woody Allen is more glaring than ever: some of the characters are just a bundle of neuroses, providing little more than comic relief. While Jaoui’s films tread carefully between pathos and romantic comedy, this one trips up and lands awkwardly in the latter camp. She’s still observant, still entertaining – just less so than she used to be.