`Suite' follows teens you won't care about

Movie Reviews

July 08, 2005|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

A Tout de Suite (Right Now) takes a bored 19-year-old girl on a ride she'll never forget, a multi-country odyssey that plays out like a 1970s version of Bonnie and Clyde.

But the two characters at the film's center - a vaguely dissatisfied upper-class Parisian art student (Isild Le Besco) desperately in need of a thrill and a visiting Moroccan bank robber (Ouassini Embarek) suffering from chronic confusion - display neither the charisma nor the moxie to make this confused-teens-on-the-run story work. The film knows all about being listless and directionless but never solves the puzzle of how to make such shallow emotions compelling.

We know Lili is bored because she says she's bored; we know she finds something thrilling about the lifestyle she chooses because she sticks with it, and Le Besco is a good-enough actress to make us assume she makes these decisions based on something other than the need to move to the next scene. But nothing about the film helps us feel what we assume its characters are feeling.

Lili begins the movie bored, living with a father to whom she can't relate and attending art classes that do nothing but soak up time. That changes upon her chance meeting with Bada, a shy, introspective young man with whom she spends the evening.

The next day, however, Lili gets one of those phone calls fraught with peril. It's Bada calling from inside a bank he and a friend have just robbed. They've killed a person, taken hostages, and, oh yeah, would you mind if I called you back when things calm down a bit?

Call back he does, and a few unfortunate decisions later, Lili and Bada are on the run, scampering through France, Spain, Morocco and eventually Greece. It's not clear whether they're looking to settle down, enjoy their ill-gotten booty or just remain on the lam forever, but soon events - if not exactly the law - catch up with them, leaving Lili to figure out what to do with a life irrevocably scarred.

A Tout de Suite is short on details and long on extreme, unflattering close-ups; director Benoit Jacquot tries to make the film look like a documentary, told from only Lili's point of view. The result is an intriguing picture of a young girl who, on too many spurs of too many moments, makes some wrong decisions and realizes, too late, there's a price to be paid for the path one chooses. If only the film helped us understand why she was making those choices.

A Tout de Suite

Starring Isild Le Besco, Ouassini Embarek

Directed by Benoit Jacquot

Released by Pyramide Distribution (with English subtitles)

Unrated (nudity, sexuality)

Time 95 minutes

SUN SCORE ** (2 STARS)

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