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The world can never have enough French sex comedies, but they’ll have to be funnier than Hotel Normandy to satisfy the demand. This overly convoluted and contrived farce features a typically scenic setting and an engaging performance by Helena Noguerra in the central role but otherwise has little to recommend it.
The alluring actress plays 40-year-old Alice, a recently widowed banker whose friends are determined to get back into the dating pool. To that end they buy here a weekend stay during the Deauville Biennale at the titular seaside resort, as well as secretly paying one of their handsome clients to seduce her.
Unfortunately the would-be lothario falls ill and is replaced by his buffoonish brother (Ary Abbittan) who takes his task very much to heart. Meanwhile, Alice finds herself falling for Jacques (Eric Elmosnino, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life), a dashing art dealer who gives her an expensive painting.
Seemingly endless plot complications, if not hilarity, ensues, with Alice accused of being an art thief by Jacques’ bitter ex-wife and numerous cases of mistaken identity adding further non-fuel to the plot. Indeed, the film seems so eager to pile on farcical complications that it nearly loses sight of the main love story at its center.
Ultimately it all seems forced and mechanical, with director Charles Nemes failing to provide the lighthearted fizz necessary to sustain the sitcom-like premise. While the hangdog Abbitttan manages to score some laughs as the third wheel in the romantic triangle, Hotel Normandy is barely worth a check-in.
Opens: Friday, Sept. 27 (Rialto Premieres)
Production: Alter Films, Studocanal
Cast: Eric Elmosnino, Helena Noguerra, Ary Abittan, Frederique Bel, Anne irouard, Annelise Hesme,
Director: Charles Nemes
Producer: Alain Terzian
Screenplay: Jean-Paul Bathany, Stephane Ben Lahcene
Director of photography: Robert Alazraki
Editor: Veronique Parnet
Production designer: Yves Brover-Rabinovici
Costume designer: Carine Sarfati
Composer: Jean-Claude Petit
Not rated, 97 min.
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