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  • There's much to like about Laetitia Casta; she's pretty much the only supermodel who consistently has main roles in her movies (even Elle Macpherson's biggest fans have to admit she doesn't really deserve the prominent billing she often gets), and she's an appealing and stunning woman as well. True, she's not going to be winning any Cesars (the French equivalent of the Oscars) in the near future, but then again Tom Selleck once won an Emmy. "Rue des Plaisirs" was a box office underachiever in France, and while you can see why it's not the curvaceous Laetitia's fault. In fact, it's not even a bad movie - just an underpowered one.

    Patrice Leconte's movie starts with three prostitutes plying their trade on a slow, rainy night in Paris - with nothing coming their way, one of them tells the other two about another hooker who actually did make something of her life... cue flashbacks to 1945, and the ladies of a brothel taking care of the son of one of their own, who grows up to continue working there as the handyman (Patrick Timsit), but when he sees the newest arrival (La Casta, still gorgeous with shortened black hair), he falls for her on the spot. Rather than try his luck with her, he tries to make her happy in other ways, namely by playing Cupid. The man he eventually matches the romantic young prostitute with, however, isn't quite as perfect as he'd wish.

    "Rue des Plaisirs" doesn't glamourise prostitution (it avoids any easy humour about being the only man in a houseful of women, and the scenes of Laetitia's character in action aren't shot for eroticism at all), but it also short-changes the people - the main characters aren't really that developed, and it's fairly passionless at first despite the title and the setting, but the movie does improve as it goes along; you never really love it, but you can like it.

    It doesn't really work overall, and you do wonder how the women who narrate know everything that happens, but there are plenty of bits to enjoy - Timsit's sympathetic performance as Louis, a man whose devotion to a woman he'll never have is touching to behold; the montage of women raising money to help the couple (literally a matter of life and death); the big-screen singing debut of Laetitia, whose character uses music as one release; the '40s soundtrack... the movie has lots to like, but in the end it falls short. It's probably because there's not enough emotion in the tale, or maybe because in the closing stages we get a wonderfully shot but profoundly sad ending which ultimately renders the movie a bummer. (The original script for "Pretty Woman," another love story about a prostitute, also had a downbeat finish - but not as downbeat as this movie's.)

    But give Laetitia Casta credit for stretching herself on screen instead of being content to play The Girlfriend; and at least she can act (Kate Moss, please note). I'd like to see her in an English-language movie or in something set in the present day, but Casta fans should still check this out - like they need me to tell them that. Now if only someone would put out a subtitled version of "La Bicyclette Bleue"...
  • Au contraire to popular (printed or otherwise expressed) beliefs regarding this great movie, I am forced to express that this story is one of the best if it is not completely safe to say 'the best' and most touching love story ever!

    It is my belief that there are certain people that have a certain sweetness/innocence to their figure so that when/if set to the task of stating/showing the true nature of pure love they can do it in the most powerful way. This is exactly what happens in this film in my opinion.

    A simple man, petit Luis while surrounded by women all this childhood - meaning that the opportunity to watch the properties / associations of pretty girls was so abundant so as to get used to them - meats the figure of his dreams on one very simple day just like that. Now this could happen to anyone of us. What makes the huge difference and makes this be extraordinary is that he had the purity in heart so as to admit it to himself or else believe in it straight away. He knew of this. And he knew straight away. This is the first point that I agree to completely. When telling a tale of true love it should start like this, yes.

    Point number two is that he wants his love to be happy and in this film there is a unique way of showing this property of love. Anyone truly in love want their loved one to be happy but very very rarely they find the power to submit their selves in a state at which all that matters is their loved one and they therefore would stop at nothing to ensure their happiness even if they would have to endure infinite amount of pain! Most people would think of their lives after a point / would seek happiness through a different route / or simply would stop believing in it. This is not the case when the nature of their love is most true though. This is exactly the reason why this film is one of true love. Because the subject of love never loses faith, never subdues to society; his feelings are beyond reason, beyond the point of any return and there is not one condition, one set of circumstances in this world that can intervene/change/manipulate that.

    And number three point is a small artistic detail. There is this awesome, cute little song that Marion sings while waiting, it is like: "si tu veux faire mon bonheure, margueritte, margueritte ..". It shows (at least to me) the pure nature of hope. I admit there are plenty of ways to describe what hope is but this one is the most sweet that I have even seen.

    Overall this film is a must! You do need to take the time to see it no matter who you are or where you come from...
  • whitesheik9 November 2005
    I am an unabashed fan of Mr. Leconte. In fact, I have never seen a bad film from this director. Every film of his is completely unlike the others, and yet they all have his unmistakable stamp.

    Rue des Plaisirs takes its sweet time setting its story up, but it all moves very quickly, pace-wise, and the simplicity and beauty of the images is wonderful, and the little fable is ultimately very touching. Mr. Leconte rarely overstays his welcome - his films have reasonable running times and they say what they have to say and then they're done. If you don't know this director, you should seek out his films, especially Monseiur Hire, Intimate Strangers, The Widow of St. Pierre, Ridicule, and the great 1 Chance Sur Doux, with Belmondo, Delon, and Vanessa Paradis.
  • This movie caught my eye while I was channel surfing. I don't know what kept me from changing the channel despite the slow, unstructured plot - but I'm glad I stayed with it. The story is highly predictable, but I think they didn't try to avoid that. Instead, they tell the story in a very creative way. I can see why it would annoy those who like a very structured movie. But this movie is kind of like listening to a song without really caring about the words. Likewise, the story isn't really the point here, it's about the characters in the story.

    Midway through the movie, I was pretty sure the lead actress was Casta, but I didn't even know she had an acting career. I look forward to seeing more of her. She was very graceful, above obviously beautiful, and helped center the rest of the cast. I really loved the sets and the costumes as well, and I believe this is the first time I've taken a line to mention this in a review. All these little things put together made it an enjoyable viewing experience, as long as you believe enough in the characters to want to know what happens to them.

    You'll probably never seek out this film unless you're already a fan of Casta. But if the mood fits you right, or you simply like movies set in the '40s, this can be a very rewarding film.
  • subdude-115 November 2002
    I know some movies just miss their mark, but this one's outta the freakin universe. Laetitia Casta can't act! Fine. At least show some of her real talents! But no!!! A movie about French prostitutes with a hot supermodel and absolutely no nudity? What were they thinking? Please someone give me back the 82 minutes this movie stole from my life.
  • LeRoyMarko13 March 2006
    You're always on for something special with Patrice Leconte. While "Rue des plaisirs" is not his best film, by far, it's still enjoyable. The cinematography is great and the cast is doing a good job. The story is told by a trio of Parisian prostitutes well past their best-before date. It's the story of P'tit Louis, the handyman at the brothel, and Marion the newly arrived girl. P'tit Louis vows to take care of her for the rest of her life. He's in love with her, but he won't tell her. He'll just be by her sides, to try to make her happy, even pushing her in the arms of a prince charmant who turns out to be a trouble maker. It's not a great film, but one could argue that it's a great love story. Great music from the 30's on.

    Seen at home, in Toronto, on March 12th, 2006.

    78/100 (**½)