The Rendezvous of Deja vu: Cannes Review
Vimala Pons and Vincent Macaigne are among the rising talents in writer-director Antonin Peretjatko's New Wave-style debut comedy.
CANNES -- An irreverent and inventive feature debut from Antonin Peretjatko, The Rendezvous of Deja vu (La Fille du 14 Juillet) is a freeform throwback to the fast and funny New Wave films of Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rozier, with a dose of Mumblecore-style post grad ennui and a slew of visual shtick straight out of the Zucker Brothers. Such an overload of styles and influences can make for exhausting viewing, but this latest low-budget offering from producer Emmanuel Chaumet and his Ecce Films outfit is still a delightful rejoinder to all the throwaway comedies France churns each year. Further fest play and niche theatrical will follow a Directors’ Fortnight premiere.
Similar in some ways to Sophie Letourneur’s sophomore feature Les Coquillettes – whose co-star Carole Le Page is credited as co-editor here – and her earlier La Vie au ranch (both of which were produced by Ecce), there’s a welcome DIY approach to Peretjatko’s filmmaking that recalls the late 50s/early 60s movies of the Nouvelle Vague, combining off-the-cuff location shooting, post-sync sound and a crop of unknown actors whose performances feel both fresh and real.
From the opening credits, where footage of the annual July 14th military parade is sped up to look like a Mack Sennet two-reeler, with a title card poking fun at current Gallic film financing (it reads: “Supported by the most beautiful regions of France”) the director sets his work far apart from your typically chatty homegrown affair. What follows is an array of burlesque jokes and absurdist situations, as a forlorn romantic, Hector (Gregoire Tachnakian), narrates a love story-cum-road movie about his troubled pursuit of Truquette (the sprightly Vimala Pons, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet) – the “girl” of the original title who he meets while working as a guard at the Louvre.
Along with his cigar-puffing, binge-drinking bud, Pator (the hilariously understated Vincent Macaigne) Hector invites Truquette and her g.f. Charlotte (Marie-Lorna Vaconsin) on a trip to the beach, but it will take most of the film before the four wayfarers, accompanied by Charlotte’s whiny-boy brother (Thomas Schmitt), actually make it there. On the way, the gang runs out of money (or did they ever have any?) and gets split up, with half of them chased by the the police, all the while digesting the news that the official end of summer vacation has been pushed up by an entire month—a French catastrophe if there ever was one.
Eschewing any form of narrative realism in favor of dozens of clever sight gags and set-ups, Peretjatko reveals a knack for the kind of quick-witted cinematic humor of Godard’s A Woman is a Woman and Pierrot le fou, or Rozier’s later Maine-Ocean, piling on the pranks while worrying little about the actual storytelling. As such, you never really care much whether the two lovebirds finally hook up, or why you should be watching these bored, bumbling Parisians in the first place.
But that doesn’t really matter, because there are plenty of priceless bits here, including a cops vs. robbers shootout that could have been in The Naked Gun, a ridiculous retelling of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and a crazy doctor character (Serge Trinquecoste) who looks a lot like former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, if the latter had done several lines of coke and swallowed a six-pack of Red Bull. There’s also a guy with a McDonald’s t-shirt that says “McMerde.”
And while all the jokes and digressions can grow tiring at nearly 90 minutes, the film maintains its vibrant energy thanks to the lively performances, as well as to DP Simon Roca’s colorful lensing and a busy soundtrack that includes everything from Mozart to Ennio Morricone. As for the sound, it appears to be dubbed but per the press notes was recorded live at an accelerated frame rate of 22.5 frames/second, offering further proof as to why this Rendezvous feels both old and new, but certainly never conventional.
Production companies: Ecce Films
Cast: Vimala Pons, Gregoire Tachnakian, Vincent Macaigne, Marie-Lorna Vaconsin, Thomas Schmitt, Serge Trinquecoste
Director, screenwriter: Antonin Peretjatko
Producer: Emmanuel Chaumet
Director of photography: Simon Roca
Production designer: Erwan Le Gal
Editor: Carole Le Page, Antonin Peretjatko
Sales Agent: Ecce Films
No rating, 88 minutes