Having the last name Coppola in Hollywood automatically affords one a higher stature, which opens doors to many opportunities. Even for affiliated names like Shire, Cage, or even Schwartzmann, there is an added mystique to the person behind the name. Which is probably one reason why Roman Coppola, son of Francis Ford Coppola, who previously wrote The Spirit of '76 and directed numerous music videos, was able to make CQ. Sister Sofia did a much better job with her debut The Virgin Suicides, but that is another movie. CQ is Coppola's homage to film and moviemaking, even if it doesn't always feel this way. This is a great film for cinephiles who have a working history of movies since there are many inside references, the most obvious being Barbarella. Otherwise, CQ feels like two films jammed into one, with a little bit of pretension thrown in for fun.

CQ (the Morse code call for "seek you") takes place in 1969, mostly on the troubled set of the movie Dragonfly. Dragonfly takes place way off in the future, the year 2000 to be exact. This is the future seen by people in the 60s, with skin-tight suits, lots of shag carpeting, and a hip sensibility. The star of the movie is Valentine (Angella Lindvall), who plays Valentine, a sexy secret agent. The problem is that the movie is lacking an ending, and the director (Gerard Depardieu, The Closet, 102 Dalmatians) is throwing a hissy fit. The studio fires him and hires Paul Ballard (Jeremy Davies, Up at the Villa, The Million Dollar Hotel) to replace him. Ballard is a true student of cinema. He wants to make a film with artistic merit; he wants to say something important. He frequently films himself at home, since he wants to capture the essence of what is 'real' in life. This is not helping his relationship with Marlene (Elodie Bouchez, The Beat Nicks, Being Light), who feels Ballard is ignoring her to focus too intently on his work.

Presumably, the Ballard character is in some way a reference to Coppola himself. Coppola wants to make a piece of art, instead, what appears on screen is a guy worrying about making a piece of art. Davies, ever since his Saving Private Ryan days, excels at playing whiny men, which works in his favor here. The Ballard character is too afraid to do anything that might destroy his vision, and he is also becoming increasingly infatuated with Valentine. The pace of the movie slows considerably whenever Ballard turns introspective. He turns the camera onto himself and talks to it, hoping that he can reveal something honest about himself. Moreover, aside from Ballard, nobody has much of a personality. While Coppola's skills as a writer may not be spectacular, he does have a good eye for mood. CQ's atmosphere is great. The Dragonfly sets have a wonderfully kitschy feel to them, it's just that nothing of any significance ever happens, and this sums up the entire movie.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated R for some nudity and language.

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