You may ask yourself why it is that certain actors or filmmakers seem to be ubiquitous in a single
year (think Jude Law in 2004). Mostly, it’s because of the vagaries of the motion picture industry,
where a film can take months of postproduction, or it can sit on the shelf for years before it finally
reaches a paying audience (usually on a the fast track to DVD release). In its fall movie preview
issue, Entertainment Weekly offered a peek at actors who have at least two films arriving before
the end of this year. As far as screenwriters go, one could make an argument that 2005 is the year
of French screenwriter Christophe Honoré. Already we’ve seen the release of MA MÈRE and
LE CLAN (a.k.a. THREE DANCING SLAVES). Now, it is NOVO, a film originally made
in 2002 and already released throughout Europe, which is making its belated debut in
Undoubtedly many will attempt to compare NOVO to Christopher Nolan’s breakthrough
feature MEMENTO as each film centers on a man with the inability to form memories. But whereas
the latter took a dramatic, almost film noir, approach to the subject matter, NOVO is more playful;
it aims to be a postmodern romantic comedy.
As directed by Jean-Pierre Limosin, NOVO tells the tale of Graham (Spanish heartthrob
Eduardo Noriega), a low level employee at a mysterious French corporation, who is afflicted with a
condition where he suffers memory loss. To navigate his daily life, he relies on a notebook tied to
his wrist in which he writes pertinent details. He’s a naïf, a Candide-like character for whom every
encounter is like the first. His innocence and dashing good looks, of course, attract women, particularly
his predatory boss Sabine (Nathalie Richard), who turns Graham into her own personal sex toy, and
Irène (Anna Magoulis), a temporary worker who quickly becomes smitten with him.
Hovering on the periphery are a trio of individuals who have ties to Graham, including Isabelle
(Paz Vega), Fred (Eric Caracava) and the child Antoine (Lény Bueno). Gradually, their roles in
Graham’s life eventually are revealed, as is the cause for his ailment.
NOVO is an intriguing film that doesn’t quite achieve the resonance for which it seems to be
striving. There are a few pointless scenes and a side trip to the seashore near the end that feels
tacked on. Still, Noriega does yeoman work as the lead, proving once again that he is one of
contemporary cinema’s true leading men. He and Magoulis also share terrific onscreen chemistry,
but some of the supporting roles are decidedly underdeveloped.
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language
Running time: 99 mins.
|© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.