Return to Normandy



CANNES -- With a title like "Return to Normandy" (Retour En Normandie), U.S. audiences might assume some sort of recollection or tribute to the 1945 invasion. It's a different sort of return in this place, mainly a remembrance and rekindling of experiences made while filming a 1975 movie on a notorious local crime.

Directed and assembled by Nicolas Philibert, who served as an assistant director on the earlier Rene Allio film, this enterprise might be classified as a minutiae movie, concerned with all the tiny, humdrum details of an earlier experience that, seemingly, was not all that significant to begin with.

The original film was an oddity because it used local people to portray the principals in what had been a notorious French murder in the early 19th century. Now former A.D. Philibert turns to interview those local yokels who were one-time thespians. What are they doing now? Working in the car hinge factory, that sort of thing.

While it's modestly interesting to view the Normandy countryside and somewhat amusing to witness the self-conscious remembrances of people who were plucked from their farms to star in a movie 30 years ago, the novelty wears thin, fast.

A deferential and convivial enterprise, "Retour," which screened Out of Competition, is not so much an entertainment or even an illumination, but rather a personal cinematic scrapbook, which should be stamped "return to sender."