Film review: Looking for Hortense (12A)


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The Independent Culture

Pascal Bonitzer's droll, very French comedy benefits from a wonderful performance from Jean-Pierre Bacri as a crumpled, middle-aged academic with a messy private life. He's in a seemingly contented relationship with theatre director Iva (Kristin Scott Thomas).

However, when she begins an affair with the much younger leading man from the play she is working on, his life quickly unravels. He is busy courting a beautiful Serbian waitress (Isabelle Carré) while also trying to persuade his father, a senior judge with bisexual tendencies, to stop an illegal immigrant (whose identity he doesn't know) from being deported.

The script is convoluted and heavy on coincidence, but Bonitzer squeezes out plenty of humour from the increasingly desperate behaviour of his lead character. Scott Thomas is equally impressive as the haughty Iva, who almost immediately regrets her affair.

It is disappointing that her character, prominent in the early part of the film, soon disappears from sight. As the adults behave in an ever more infantile fashion, their bespectacled, Harry Potter-like 12-year-old son (Marin Orcand Tourrès) is the only one to show any dignity or common sense.