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Cannes 2010. An Actor-Director and His Women: "Tournée" (Mathieu Amalric, France)

Cannes 2010
French actor Mathieu Amalric’s fourth feature is an ungainly, but flexible creature.  Shot: drawn out one way with the Amalric not just filming but acting as well, fulfilling a by-the-books character study of a theater troupe manager, divorced, trying to manage his burlesque performers, his children, his life, etc., to such a trite degree that what with all the mingling amongst the American female actresses suggest that Amalric-as-frazzled-Amalric is just another “act.”  It could be, but it isn’t very interesting.  Reverse shot: Much more interesting is the girls’ side of the film, which freesTournée(On Tour) up, while not free enough to re-shape the direction of the picture entirely (which sometimes suggests but could never resemble Jacques Rozier’s natural-surreal approach inMaine Océan), but at least is powerful enough to free the shot or the moment.  They stall the film’s trajectory and punch open asides.  Frequent use of offscreen space in mirror reflections, the odd juggling and constant surprise of American and French bilingualism (Amalric is a failed French TV producer who imports a group of American burlesque performers to tour the countryside) keep constant an air of hanging, lackadaisical almost-magic.  (Suggestions, again, but never attainments: think of the precise, airy conjuring of Around a Small Mountain or the grounded magic of To Die Like a Man—all superior films, yet all echoed with some pleasure in Tournée).  This is all enough to dislodge and leave floating the unsatisfying moral character development of Amalic’s lead, and instead keeps memorable the subvert-and-diverting American girls whose very presence pleasurably prevents satisfactory completion of a very average tale.

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