Friday, November 13, 2009

Please Please Me Will, in Fact, Please You

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2009 at 2:15 PM

Please_Please_Me.jpg
Imagine if Woody Allen had followed Annie Hall with Take the Money and Run! Emmanuel Mouret, unfortunately, now joins the list of comic directors—Wes Anderson, Christopher Guest—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 Plaît), the hilarious and handsomely shot Please Please Me! (Fais-moi plaisir!) (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’s fourth season, some girlfriend-sanctioned, extra-relationship relations. An achingly sweet finale—which, as an example of the writer-director’s range, evokes equal parts L’Eclisse and A Hard Day’s Night—shows Mouret’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. That’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. It’s just too bad he’s not devoting his exceptional talent to weightier material, especially because he’s proven to be the only working funnyman—hell, cinéaste in general—who could conceivably fashion an emotional moment on a par with City Lights’ pitch-perfect finale. As such, he ought to leave the yuks to the lesser laughsters, whiz though he is, and get back to pathos.

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