Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happenstance (Le Battement D'Aile du Papillon / The Beating of the Butterfly's Wings)

Netflix sez... 2000 R 96 minutes
When wide-eyed Irène (Audrey Tautou), a horoscope-believing, hopeless romantic, exchanges glances with a young restaurateur on a train, it's love at first sight. But they'll continually intersect -- through dozens of other people's lives -- before they meet. French writer-director Laurent Firode's fanciful, "What if?" film co-stars Faudel, Eric Savin, Lysiane Meis, Eric Feldman and Nathalie Besançon.

The 73rd Virgin says... This movie keeps working on me. My first reaction was rolled eyes, but as it progressed I realized it was actually kind of wickedly subversive. Maybe I watched a different movie than my Netflix brethren and sistren who found it cute.

The thing I like about it is that all the characters, except maybe the cheated upon wife, are somewhat vicious. All are liars, either pathological or run of the mill. All perform acts of at least thoughtlessness, and more often cruelty. How the hero and shero are brought together by the intervention of a dropped pebble, a pigeon dropping, sand blown out a window, etc. is all rather too fey, but how their random acts of unkindness - she dresses down a smelly homeless man, he drops a cockroach in a fellow immigrant's coffee - finally earn them their broken noses and marginal redemption is rather challenging and unique. The only thing likable about them is their appearance.

So this dreary, tired premise turns out to not nearly as cutesie as one might fear. One great line, "He looks so miserable that I almost like him."

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