Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Suitor (June 7th and 8th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[THE SUITOR screens Friday June 7th at 9:00 pm and Saturday June 8th at 5:15 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

In his debut feature film THE SUITOR, co-writer/dirctor/star Pierre Etaix begins with a premise similar to the one in Buster Keaton's SEVEN CHANCES. Both films are about a man attempting to find a wife and the comical misadventures that leads to, but in terms of tone and pacing they differ considerably. Where the main character in Keaton's film is driven by a sense of urgency (he needs to marry by a certain time in order to receive and inheritance), Etaix's would-be groom (the director himself, playing a character also named Pierre) has no real interest in matrimony, and only the nagging of his parents, which he largely ignores, to drive him.

Eventually Pierre does set forth to find a willing mate resulting in several clever sight gags but no fiancée. Not only does Pierre have no luck with the women he chooses to pursue, he has even worse luck ridding himself of the lush next door who decides to pursue him. As for the famous singing star he becomes smitten with, does he really stand a chance? And then there's the nice pretty German girl staying with Pierre's parents who Pierre proposes to several times. Alas, she doesn't speak a lick of French, and is thus unaware of our hero's intent.

THE SUITOR is a pleasant enough romantic comedy, sweet and cute and clever. There's not much to the plot or the characters beyond typical movie clichés, though. By comparison, Etaix's 1969 film LE GRAND AMOUR (also co-written with Jean-Claude Carriere) feels much sharper with fully realized themes and ideas, a streak of edgy satire to go along with the sight gags, and characters and a plot that are more believable and fleshed out. One can definitely see the same sense of humor and visual playfulness at work in this earlier film, but it's far too by the numbers and lightweight to leave a lasting impression. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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