'Wild Grass'

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Her wigged-out, burnt-orange hair and black leather pants suggest she's the lead in "Cats," but this feline fatale brings very bad luck.

Whipped up from the novel "L'incident," "Wild Grass" is a polished ditty from revered French director Alain Resnais. He's revered, and he's French, and that's the likely explanation for inclusion of this demi- divertissement in Competition.

In this slight cinematic, Andre Dussollier stars as Georges, a 50ish affluent gent whose decreasing mental state relegates him to house-husband for his younger wife. Georges is obtuse and often does not connect his thoughts. He seemingly has trouble with the everyday, like when he finds a woman's wallet and attempts to return it to her. It's a troubling process for Georges and more of a trouble for the woman, Marguerite (Sabine Azema), when he enters her life through this side incident.

Respectable-looking Georges is more than a little unhinged. He frightens Marguerite, a successful dentist and independent woman who flies her own plane. In an interesting twist, we soon suspect that Marguerite might be a bit of a fatal attraction: She shows up at his house late at night, neglects her patients and scares her partner/best friend.

Narratively, "Wild Grass" is a fractured romance that never jells on any level, except for the backdrop visuals. Looking scrumptious, as if culled from the pages of good-taste magazines, it has the appeal of a designer catalog, and also the depth.

To the cineastes here at the fest, the homages du cinema (a revival-house movie theater as well as a blast from the 20th Century Fox theme, etc.) are attractive elements.

Indeed, Resnais has graced the frame with a lush look and surfaced it with an inviting glossy sheen but never properly connects the characters to a cohesive narrative plot. Just because the characters are erratic does not mean the narrative should be. Structured as a dark-psychological romance, it's merely a poseur, a walk-through of unpredictable behavior.

At its roots, "Wild Grass" is merely a compilation of eye-candy fluff. It distracts with its warm visuals but never fully fleshes out. With its thin narrative and elliptical story jumps, the film crashes and burns in a pretentious, unsatisfying manner. (partialdiff)
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