15 February 2007 | Chris Knipp
Smooth French literary bedroom comedy
Ambitious/Les ambitieux is a romantic comedy with a Parisian literary twist. Young author Julien (Eric Caravaca) gets an interview with Judith (Karin Viard), a woman editor described as "scary." She goes to bed with him because he's her type, though she hasn't even read the autobiographical novel he wants to get published. Having gained admittance to her fancy apartment, Julien goes through a box she'd left in his car. It contains records showing that Judith's father was a Sixties radical who was killed in a guerrilla movement in Latin America. This seems to be the exciting material he needs to write a more saleable book. The film is full of clever double-crosses but ends with a somewhat soppy reunion. It's entertaining and watchable. Viard has the requisite edge; Caravaca, the right mixture of shy charm and hidden drive.
This reminded me of Emmanuel Bourdieu's Les amitiés maléfiques from last year, which also dealt with jealousy, ambition, and authorship, from a more academic angle, but was more sophisticated and complex. This one is polished but superficial. It moves with a brisk pace and has vivid characters, but it sticks to an easy story-line that leaves no deep impression. And though it gets its laughs, it does so at the cost of never going more than skin deep. As a French online review commented, one wishes Catherine Corsini herself might have been more "ambitious." The images were too dark, but this may have been in part simply due to the fact that we were shown a DVD.
Rendez-Vous with French Cinema showing at Lincoln Center March 3, 4, and 6, and at the IFC Center March 5, 2007. Opened in Paris January 24, 2007. No US distributor.