AVENUE MONTAIGNE (AKA Fauteuils d'Orchestre, or Orchestra Seats) works on many levels. As directed and written (with her son Christopher Thompson who also acts in the film) by Danièle Thompson the story is about need, expectations, disappointments and the opening of new doors. It is sweet, tender, beautifully acted and delivers Paris to the viewer on a dream- like encounter.
Jessica (Cécile De France) lives in Mâcon, France with her aging grandmother Madame Roux (veteran actress Suzanne Flon in her last appearance in film): they share a desire - loving luxury - but both are poor in money and rich in spirit. Jessica decides to move to Paris to find good fortune. She has no money and no place to live so she finally finds a job as a waitress in bar next on Avenue Montaigne that caters to the surrounding theaters and the wealthy inhabitants of the area. Not being the requisite 'male waiter' her attention is paid to the people of luxury around her. She meets a famous pianist (Jean-François Lefort) who is married to his manager Valentine (Laura Morante) and their life of luxury is tainted by the pianist's tiring of the superficiality of his career, a famous actress Caterine Versen (Valérie Lemercier) who makes money on TV soaps and struggles with Feydeau stage productions but really would chuck it all to star in a film about Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre directed by the famous Brian Sobinsky (Sydney Pollack), and a great art collector Jacques Grumberg (Claude Brasseur) who is auctioning off his entire art collection to the pleasure of his new young girlfriend Valérie (Annelise Hesme) but to the disappointment of his son Professor Frédéric Grumberg (Christopher Thompson) , and is present in the retirement days of the theater manager Dani (Claudie). Jessica proves to be the catalyst for change in each of these people's lives and fulfills her dream of providing luxury by obtaining an orchestra seat for her grandmother at the pianist's farewell formal concert.
Though the plot may sound complex it all spins out in meaningful ways that manage to tie the multiple stories together because of the presence of Jessica. The cinematography by Jean- Marc Fabre sparkles as doe the musical score by Nicola Piovani (with a great assist from Beethoven!). It is a bit of French froth with a message and a pure delight to watch - over and over.
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