Wednesday, May 18, 2016

movie review: Fool Moon (original title: Forêt des Quinconces)

Fool Moon (original title: Forêt des Quinconces)
(France, 2016)
Dir. Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet

When the movie begins, it has the appearance of being a lighthearted romantic comedy, but Fool Moon (Forêt des Quinconces) is nothing of the sort. Yes, Paul (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) is in love with his girlfriend Ondine (Amandine Truffy), and is understandably broken-hearted when she dumps him. Yes, he goes on a sad sack bender and has to be rescued from a Paris sidewalk by his brother-in-law the next morning. Yes, Paul vows to win Ondine back. However, it's at this point that the movie takes a sharp departure from rom-com territory.

Wandering around broken-hearted, Paul trips over the coin box of a homeless man (Thierry Hancisse) living in a Paris underpass. As he apologizes and picks up the man's money, he is drawn into a conversation in which it is revealed that the homeless man is actually Chance, or Fate.

It's at this point that audiences might realize the (original French) dialogue is in rhyming meter. As the film progresses, we see more Shakespearean elements and it becomes clear this is a project designed to push the boundaries of what the typical film audience is used to. It is fun to see Shakespearean melodrama clothed in 21st century garb and a modern Parisian setting, with clubs, cafes and the Metro.

It's not a perfect movie; the film is still a bit rough around the edges in terms of writing and story structure. Occasionally it seems that Leprince-Ringuet sacrifices substance in service of style. The film treads dangerously close to preciousness at times, which gets tiresome. Also, even if we accept the conceit that Paul, Ondine and Paul's new mysterious lover Camille (Pauline Caupenne) are not meant to be realistic but rather to fulfill 'types' in a Shakespearean tragicomedy, we expect at least a little bit of logic in the narrative.

However, it's an admirably ambitious project and a nice change of pace from a typical romantic comedy-drama. The dialogue, when it works, is very good, and the actors inhabit their characters well. The scene with the dance troupe is particularly outstanding in its music choice and choreography.

This movie is not for everyone, but for those who like something unexpected and are okay with theatricality, it's an enjoyable experiment. I imagine Leprince-Ringuet will only get better with each subsequent film, since he already shows clear talent, even if there is room for improvement.

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