Chinese Puzzle, film review: Funny and well-observed but pretentiousness kicks in

(15) Cédric Klapisch, 117 mins Starring: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cécile de France
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The Independent Culture

Like its self-obsessed central character, Chinese Puzzle is ingratiating and irritating by turns. Cédric Klapisch clearly intends Xavier (Romain Duris) as a contemporary equivalent to François Truffaut's Antoine Doinel, whose similarly muddled romantic and professional life was chronicled in several films.

Xavier is now on the cusp of his 40s. His wife (Kelly Reilly) has left him and headed to New York with the kids. He follows her there, gets a job as a bike messenger and keeps on working away at his novel.

Klapisch has a tremendous cast and an enjoyably freewheeling approach to his subject matter. There are some very funny and well-observed scenes involving Xavier's romantic misadventures and his attempts to secure US residency.

It's only when he starts having imaginary conversations with Hegel and Schopenhauer that the pretentiousness kicks in.