Cédric Klapisch’s occasionally cute but fatally, irritatingly over-stuffed Russian Dolls reconnects us with the characters of his 2002 international hit, L’auberge Espagnol, five years after the events of that film. Unable to sell his novel, protagonist Xavier begins a freelance career writing shitty soap opera scripts. His personal life is in no better shape: Ex-lover Martine still has a thing for him but he has a thing for a pretty Senegalese, but it’s nothing like the thing he has for Wendy, the beautiful, ruddy sister of his pal William, who has a thing for a Russian ballerina… Subplots, ad nauseam.
Enjoyment of Dolls hinges entirely on one’s taste for Klapisch’s über-whimsical (read: annoying) imagination and childish ruminations on relationships. Dolls often warrants a raspberry, especially when Xavier’s imaginary, pipe-playing alter ego pops onscreen. Clocking in at over two hours, Dolls takes a terribly long time to show that its characters are clueless.