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MOVIE REVIEW

The Girl From Monaco (La Fille De Monaco)

'Girl' has an identity crisis

Louise Bourgoin (with Roschdy Zem) plays Audrey, who one minute is a sitcom-style free spirit and the next is a raw party girl. Louise Bourgoin (with Roschdy Zem) plays Audrey, who one minute is a sitcom-style free spirit and the next is a raw party girl. (Magnolia Pictures)
By Joel Brown
Globe Correspondent / July 3, 2009
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‘The Girl From Monaco’’ doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a sprightly sex comedy or an enigmatic little thriller. Unfortunately, it’s neither very funny nor very thrilling.

Fabrice Luchini stars as Bertrand Beauvois, a top French defense attorney who comes to Monaco to defend a rich woman charged with the murder of a Russian gigolo. Roschdy Zem plays Christophe Abadi, the bodyguard hired for him by the woman’s son. Beauvois insists he doesn’t need protection, but when a ditsy old lover shows up at their hotel, the practical-minded Abadi proves useful in getting rid of her. The two men form a friendship on conversations about women and philosophy.

Things get complicated when Beauvois meets Audrey Varella, a Monaco TV weather bimbo - politically incorrect term, but accurate here. She rather inexplicably pursues the bland, middle-aged Beauvois. “I don’t want you to be disappointed,’’ the smitten but modest attorney tells her. “There is nothing exceptional about my sexuality.’’ She responds with a blunt, five-word request that can’t be repeated in a family newspaper.

Played gratingly by Louise Bourgoin (who resembles Drea De Matteo of “The Sopranos’’), Audrey is difficult to get a handle on. One minute she’s a sitcom-style free spirit, riding a scooter along the Mediterranean and bubbling over about karma and her new celebrity pets segment. The next she’s a raw party girl who has sex with a casual acquaintance as a birthday gift - humiliating Beauvois.

All along, the movie hints about a threat from the dead Russian’s brothers, and for a while Audrey looks like bait for a trap, but all that evaporates into nothing. The murder trial seems to exist mainly so Beauvois can give courtroom speeches about sex and loneliness.

Things really get complicated when Abadi tells the attorney that he, too, had an intense relationship with Audrey. Suddenly the story takes on a darker cast, but the final twists arrive without much impact.

The French still make sexy, enigmatic thrillers - “Swimming Pool’’ comes to mind - as well as charming, offbeat comedies. “The Girl From Monaco’’ tries to blend the two and ends up being, well, disappointing.

THE GIRL FROM MONACO (LA FILLE DE MONACO) Directed by: Anne Fontaine

Written by: Anne Fontaine

and Benoit Graffin

Starring: Fabrice Luchini, Roschdy Zem and

Louise Bourgoin

At: Kendall Square

Running time: 95 minutes

Rated: R for sexual content, brief nudity and language

In French with subtitles

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