Back to IndieWire

One Good Turn . . .: Anne Fontaine’s “The Girl from Monaco”

One Good Turn . . .: Anne Fontaine's "The Girl from Monaco"

French romantic comedies are the art-house import equivalent of pimped-out Hollywood blockbusters. Both appeal to a wide and diffuse target audience — moderately cultured bourgeois and pop thrill seekers — and both are basically critic-proof. Where Michael Bay obliterates scrutiny with fireballs and shiny screeching machinery, French comedies gently neutralize through learned banter, exotic settings, and scantily clad gamines. The machine works something like this: an older gentleman clicks into place across from a fresh face, situational laughter is achieved while clothes teasingly peel away, a titillating trailer cuts itself, Denby reviews for the New Yorker, and decent money is made. Though Anne Fontaine follows the formula with The Girl from Monaco, she also tweaks it a bit, and her modifications make the film at least formally intriguing.

Pie-faced comedian Fabrice Luchini plays Bertrand, a veteran high-powered defense attorney relocated to Monaco for a notorious murder case. For protection a bodyguard, Christophe (Roschdy Zem), is hired to shadow Bertrand throughout the long trial, and his vocational intensity at first unnerves his mild, measured charge. But slowly a codependence develops, and the proverbial odd couple forms an unlikely friendship. Bertrand is fascinated by, and comes to rely on Christophe’s bold, no-nonsense problem solving, and Christophe feeds off of Bertrand’s reliance. Things get complicated, as they are wont, when a saucy TV weathergirl, Audrey (Louise Bourgoin, a version of perfection poised between cartoon and robot) becomes improbably enamored of Bertrand. Is she a social climber, a femme fatale, a schemer out to make former flame Christophe jealous, or actually in love?

Click here to read the rest of Eric Hynes’s review of The Girl from Monaco.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized