"The Role of Her Life" is a disturbing comedy about what happens when an over-the-top fan gets the chance to enslave herself to the star she idolizes.
By LESLIE (HOBAN) BLAKE
If only Claire (Karin Viard), the mousy part-time journalist/heroine of "Le R™le de sa Vie," had listened to Philip Seymour Hoffman (playing Lester Bangs) in "Almost Famous." "They're NOT your friends," Bangs admonishes a young Rolling Stone interviewer, who gets caught up in the glitz and glamour of his subjects' lives.
But then this film, built around the slight premise that the famous actually could become your friends, would not have been made by debutant director Fran¨ois Favrat. And so Claire joyfully embarks on her own misadventures as a freelance journalist turned female-factotum for the fabulously flaky star, Elisabeth Becker (Agn¸s Jaoui).
|THE ROLE OF HER LIFE|
|Original title: Le R™le de sa Vie.|
Directed by: Fran¨ois Favrat.
Written by: Jˇr™me Beaujour, Roger Bohbot, Fran¨ois Favrat, Julie Lopes-Curval.
Cast: Agn¸s Jaoui, Karin Viard, Jonathan Zacca•, Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, Claude Crˇtient, Laurent Lafitte, Denis Sebbah, Francis Huster.
Cinematography: Pascal Marti.
Edited by: Luc Barnier, Vincent Lˇvy.
In French with English subtitles.
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"All About Eve" presents the seemingly mousy Eve Harrington. She also becomes the star's assistant but is, in reality, a conniving bitch who sets out to steal both the starring role and her younger boyfriend from aging star, Margo Channing. Favrat's Claire really is a mouse who convinces herself that Elisabeth is her friend.
Claire is ecstatic wearing Elisabeth's castoff clothing and running her errands, beause it allows her to be included in the magic circle. Along the way, Elisabeth also snags Mathias (Jonathan Zaccai), the cute landscape artist for whom Claire herself has a yen.
Elisabeth is a toxic personality, destroying just about everyone who cares for her because of an insatiable need to be the center of everyone's universe. It's telling that Favrat was also one of the writers of "She's One of Us," last year's darkly disturbing portrait of a sociopath who takes on the personality of a girl she kills.
This is meant, perhaps, to be the comedic flip side of that dark tale. Claire is not a sociopath. She's just a shy young woman with low self-esteem, who basks in the attentions she thinks she's getting from a star ... and nobody dies. (Hope that doesn't spoil it for you!) One can only surmise what actress / director / screenwriter Jaoui ("Look at Me") might have done with the same idea. Her films are peopled with multi-layered characters who are both real and recognizable.
Favrat's characters play like warmed-over sitcom concepts and the film itself, like several others in the 2005 Lincoln Center Rendez-Vous series, cries out for an American version. Sandra Bullock could play Claire to Julia Roberts' Elisabeth (or vice-versa, for a bit of off-type casting). In any case, the film, which won the Best Screenplay award at Montreal last summer, is at best somewhat amusing and at worst predictable and inconsequential.
|MARCH 20, 2005|
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