(Fauteuils d'orchestre)
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
L to R: Christopher Thompson as Frédéric and
Cécile De France as Jessica in

© 2006 Think Film Company

The French selection for the 2006 Academy
made the festival rounds, screening at the 2006
"Rendez-Vous with French Cinema" in New York,
among others. The movie is only the third
directed by Danièle Thompson, the daughter of
actors Gérard Oury and Jacqueline  Roman. All
three of her features were written by Thompson
and her son Christopher.

AVENUE MONTAIGNE (originally called
) is a charming if insubstantial movie
that hinges on the adventures of a young
gamine named Jessica (Cécile De France) who
takes the advice of her elderly grandmother
(the late Suzanne Flon in her last film role) and
embarks on a quest for a life of luxury in the
French capital. Grandmother spins tales of how
she always loved luxury and how she managed
to achieve a life filled with it despite humble
beginnings. Partly inspired by the older
woman's musings, Jessica sets off on her

As it happens, Jessica has a habit of being in
the right place at the right time. She applies for
work at the Bar des Théâtres. Normally the
establishment doesn't hire females, but the
manager makes an exception because he is
faced with a crisis: there are three major
events occurring across the street and he's
down two waiters. In her capacity as server,
Jessica encounters the other main characters:
an insecure actress (Valérie Lemercier) starring
in both a hit television series and a Feydeau
revival directed by her ex-husband; disgruntled
concert pianist  Jean-François Lefort (Albert
Dupontel), who wants to chuck his career over
the objections of his manager-wife (Laura
Morante); and a wealthy man (Claude Brasseur)
who has decided to sell off his art collection
despite the unvoiced objections of his son
Frédéric (Christopher Thompson).

During the course of the film, Jessica will exert
an influence on the lives of these people,
whether overtly or not. The actress is dying to
land what she feels is the role of a lifetime --
Simone de Beauvoir -- in a film to be directed
by a noted American director (portrayed by
Sydney Pollack) and thanks to Jessica, she has
a meeting with him about the role. The pianist
pours out his discontent to her and afterwards
leads him to make a decision about his career.
Jessica also manages to captivate Frédéric.
Along the way, she also learns lessons about
art, theater, music, and, most importantly, life.

AVENUE MONTAIGNE is something of a
trifle (which makes it easy to understand why it
did not garner an Oscar nomination when there
were far more deserving features), it still is a
pleasant and enjoyable movie. The
performances are all fine, including a notable
supporting turn by Dani as a retiring house
manager who enjoys 60s music.

Rating:            B
MPAA Rating:   PG-13 for some strong
               language and brief sexuality
Running time:   106 mins.

Viewed at Magno Review One