Review

  • Fauteuils d'orchestre (2006) directed by Danièle Thompson, was shown in the U.S. with the title "Avenue Montaigne." The U.S. title refers to the location of a bistro in Paris at which the protagonist, Jessica (Cécile De France), finds a job as waitress. Avenue Montaigne is the hub of the Parisian theater and art district. Naturally, the bistro serves actors, musicians, and artists, and Jessica (who is new to Paris) interacts with all of them .

    The movie contains three major plot lines, and some sub-plots as well. Jessica weaves into and through all of the plots, because her charming and disarming manner--and her waiter's uniform--give her access to everyone's world and, ultimately, everyone's life.

    The acting is solid enough, but not outstanding, with one exception. Valérie Lemercier plays a TV actor who stars as the mayor in a soap opera set in a small town. However, she's a serious actor, and wants to star in a serious play. Most directors would cast a classically beautiful actor in this role, but Ms. Thompson has chosen an actor who looks like a middle-aged provincial mayor. Casting against type like that takes courage, and I think the director's decision was a good one.

    The film isn't painful or unpleasant, but it's not worth a special trip either. You can't help liking Jessica, who looks and acts like a young Jean Seberg. Whether the other characters would react to her in life in the same way they do in the movie is debatable. Still, it's not biography--it's a fairy tale set in a magical street in Paris. You'll probably enjoy it if you see it for what it is. Just don't expect the movie that Robert Altman would have made using the same basic plot.