Merci Docteur Rey

There is an inherent lack of balance that makes a dull Merci Docteur Rey worse than it otherwise would be. Writer/director Andrew Litvack cannot decide whether he wanted to make a comedy or a drama. So he made both, with disastrous results. The film is book ended with a murder mystery, but pauses frequently to step into a dysfunctional and highly annoying family. It all revolves around Thomas Beaumont (Stanislas Merhar, Nobel, The Knights of the Quest), a young gay man living in Paris. His mother, Elisabeth (Dianne Weist, I Am Sam, Not Afraid, Not Afraid) is overbearing and a washed up actress. His father is out of the picture, and has been for years.

Thomas enjoys anonymous sex with men he meets over the phone. One man invites him to hide in his closet to watch. Instead of watching sex, he ends up witnessing a murder. Horrified at what he saw, he runs to the first doctor he can find to confess. Thomas meets who he thinks is Dr. Rey, but is actually Penelope (Jane Birkin, A Hell of a Day, This is My Body). Rey died on her earlier during her session, and she was trying to hide the fact when Thomas entered. This is supposed to be funny, but is not, and that's a really bad sign. The lack of humor sets the tone for the rest of Merci Docteur Rey. Penelope and Thomas begins dating Penelope, who is another washed up actress who is losing it because of Rey's death.

Now it turns out that the man who called Thomas, the same man who was murdered, was Thomas' father. This is a poignant moment for Thomas, and he vows to find the murderer. All he knows is that the murderer was a prostitute, which means he has to set up appointments to find the real killer. He also must hide this fact from Elisabeth, who Litvack keeps switching to. No matter what Weist does here, it is dull. And she's on screen for a good amount of time. Birkin is acting like she stepped in from a completely different movie. Her character is extremely high strung and nervous, and always on the verge of vomiting. Her back-story is just as dumb.

Nothing happens for a very long time. Supposedly, this is a comedy about mistaken identities, along the lines of a farce, but it fails miserably. It is a real test of patience trying to sit through Merci Docteur Rey, mostly because Litvack keeps going back to Weist. She is a great actress, but her role here is very annoying. There is endless dialogue (on everybody's part), and the story moves at a snail's pace. The ending is a real doozy. Litvack reveals some really big shockers, and everybody just smiles and laughs it off. At least it's consistent with the rest of the film.

Mongoose Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 36 minutes, French and English with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains language and some sensuality, a likely R.

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