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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chinese Puzzle - A Film Review

Chinese Puzzle is a 2013 French comedy-drama written and directed by Cédric Klapisch, and is the third and final installment of the Spanish Apartment trilogy, after L’Auberge Espagnole and Russian Dolls. The film stars Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Kelly Reilly, and Cecile de France. The film series centered on Xavier (Duris), a writer who first met his friends while studying abroad in Barcelona ten years ago, fell in love with both Martine (Tautou) and Wendy (Reilly), and has now become a family man at 40 years old. This film often is about mid-life crises, and adjusting to a new stage in life beyond youth.
Wendy tells Xavier that she is leaving him for another man, and she takes their two children and moves from Paris to New York City. Xavier, while not overly surprised that his wife is leaving him, is distraught over being separated from his children, and decides to move to New York City as well. There, he struggles as an undocumented immigrant and newcomer to New York life. He is working on a novel for a Parisian publisher, but in the meantime, gets a job as a messenger, lives in a small apartment above a restaurant in Chinatown, had donated his sperm to his lesbian friend Isabelle (de France) in Paris so she and her girlfriend can have a baby, and gets a sham marriage to a Chinese-American woman so he can get a green card. All of this, and he and his friends are adjusting to turning 40 years old, accepting their age, and trying not to repeat youthful mistakes of the past.

           Klapisch has a talent for making charming films about ordinary and likable people who seem like individuals one would know in real life, whether in Paris, New York City, Barcelona, or elsewhere. His previous films, like Un air de famille (Family Resemblances), a comedy centered around a family birthday dinner and all the drama and merriment that goes with it; and Chacun cherche son chat (When the Cat’s Away), a comedy about a Parisian woman who loses her cat and, while searching for it, gets to know her colorful neighbors, are both wonderful and enjoyable films about everyday people in Parisian life.

            Chinese Puzzle is a witty and interesting film about people starting their lives over again in NYC, and adjusting to a new culture, confronting age, changes in maturity levels, and easing out of their adolescent mindsets from their youth. 

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