This is the kind of movie which is lauded far beyond its station by chic intellectual TV magazines and it depicts posh "bourgeois (more or less) Bohemes".
Let's accentuate the positive :it's a great pleasure to see Marie - Christine Barrault and Guy Marchand team up again 40 years after "Cousin -Cousine" which was nominated twice for an Oscar at the time!Marchand makes the best of an underwritten part and does not seem to take his role seriously (whereas his character's condition is serious ):the scene where he laughs at the presents he is given is probably the funniest in the whole movie(a stick cane?I can walk!).Barrault transcends the cardboard character of the liberal over-possessive mom ;the only real moving moment belongs to her in the airport cafe ,the actress injecting more emotion in her playing you think it's possible when she talks about her own marriage ("we were clueless,we did not know if we were in love" ).But their lost affair was perhaps the deepest in the whole film ,because it has stood the test of time :Barrault's final scream deeply moves the viewer and explains the first picture of a man in tears.
Bruno Pulutzu gives a restrained effective portrayal of Antoine's partner .Laurent Lafitte ,on the other hand is more intrusive than convincing ;his desire for another man is not fully exploited and could have renewed (in French mainstream) the now trite subject of homosexuality (see how "Mariage Pour Tous" mom rejoices when she thinks that her gay son and his mate are going to get married).Even more intrusive ,and even verging on ham is Agnès Jaoui's Ariel .The actress hogs the stage ;the character is the stereotype of the modern liberated smug woman and the thespian does nothing to rectify it ,she seems incapable of showing these self-assured persons may have a darker side to them.Nicolas Bedos in awe of a girl he considers a goddess is certainly a good moment though.
Some critics call "L'Art De La Fugue" caustic,scathing ;it actually takes no chances,raises no important questions even though it sometimes charms or appeals.The scene when Ariel savors an ice cream while smoking in a public place is revealing : it's the woman who criticizes her who is blamed.These people live in a "feel-good" world ,the present zeitgeist of the French scene.And if they shun any responsibility (that's what the title-the art of running away- means) ,it 's because they know they are part of the privileged classes who do not have any problems to make both ends meet.