Hotel Normandy: Film Review

Hotel Normandy film still - H 2013

Hotel Normandy film still - H 2013

This would-be sparkling comedy lacks fizz.

A beautiful widow encounters farcical romantic complications in this French sex comedy.

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.