Imagine if Woody Allen had followed Annie Hall
with Take the Money and Run
! Emmanuel Mouret, unfortunately, now joins the list of comic directorsâ€”Wes Anderson, Christopher Guestâ€”who succeeded poignant, mere-comedy transcending near-masterpieces with follow-ups that signal artistic regression. Coming on the heels of the sumptuous and heartbreaking Shall We Kiss?
(Un Baiser s'il Vous PlaÃ®t
), the hilarious and handsomely shot Please Please Me!
) (which closes BAM's New French Films series
on Sunday) is a goofy, mostly physical comedy about a day and night in the life of a man (Mouret) desperately seeking, a la Curb Your Enthusiasm
â€™s fourth season, some girlfriend-sanctioned, extra-relationship relations.
An achingly sweet finaleâ€”which, as an example of the writer-directorâ€™s range, evokes equal parts Lâ€™Eclisse
and A Hard Dayâ€™s Night
â€”shows Mouretâ€™s still got it, but for the preceding 85 minutes he prefers to revel in broad farce as both straightman and clown, channeling Chaplin via Tati via Blake Edwards via Johnny Stecchino
-era Benigni in routines both throwaway and exceedingly clever. Thatâ€™s not exactly a shame: master-comedian Mouret, like his silent forebears, knows how to keep a joke building to the rarefied realm James Agee called boffo
, even if he starts with a gag as trite as catching a long, luxurious drape in his fly. Itâ€™s just too bad heâ€™s not devoting his exceptional talent to weightier material, especially because heâ€™s proven to be the only working funnymanâ€”hell, cinÃ©aste in generalâ€”who could conceivably fashion an emotional moment on a par with City Lights
â€™ pitch-perfect finale. As such, he ought to leave the yuks to the lesser laughsters, whiz though he is, and get back to pathos.