(Jardins en automne)
© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Séverin Blanchet as Vincent in
Gardens in Autumn (Jardins en automne)
Directed by Otar Iosseliani, France

Photo Credit: Les Films du Losange

       Georgian-born French movie
maker Otar Iosseliani's new film
overlong comedy about a man corrupted by power and privilege who finds
himself when he loses everything and must begin life anew.

        As the film opens, Vincent (Séverin Blanchet) is a successful government
official with a free-spending wife, bodyguards, a mistress and just about any
and all of the accouterments of a life befit a man of his station. In a flash, though,
thanks to mob protests in the streets, he is dispatched and replaced by a lumpen
official with a pet leopard.

        Instead of falling apart, though, Vincent takes the opportunity to reevaluate
his life and concludes he really did not need all the luxuries and posh
surroundings. Instead, he moves back into a rundown apartment (now home to
immigrant squatters) and reconnects with his family, including his mother
(actor Michel Piccoli in drag), and old friends. He also manages to reconnect
with the "common people."

        While Iosseliani manages to avoid some of the cliches that American
filmmakers would happily embrace, GARDENS IN AUTUMN does run on
a bit too long, and it appears to have several endings. Still there are some
lovely bits (the satirical take on the transfer of power, for one) and the
actors are well cast. It was a pleasant viewing experience but not a particularly
memorable one.

                                Rating:                C
                                Running time:      115 mins.