Place Vendome

The Place Vendome in Paris is a world famous square. It has little to do with the movie Place Vendome, other than to provide the setting for a couple scenes in the movie. Place Vendome came out originally in 1998 in France, and is only now making its way across the pond. There is no real reason why it took so long to get here. Catherine Deneuve, the star, is wildly popular amongst critics and foreign film fans here, and the acting is methodical and subtle. If it were set earlier in the century, it could probably be an easy contender for the Best Foreign Language movie.

Director Nicole Garcia (The Favorite Son) and co-writer Jacques Fieschi (The School of Flesh) let events unfold slowly, almost frustratingly so at times. It doesn't help that Garcia reveals only a little at a time. A full understanding of the movie only occurs at the end, and the payoff is not quite worth the effort. Marianne Malivert (Deneuve, Dancer in the Dark, East-West) is the wife of jewelry seller Vincent Malivert (Bernard Fresson). Malivert and his company operate outside of DeBeers, the giant diamond cartel. Marianne had some history in the business, but left years ago. She is recovering from some sort of malady, and spends much time (months) in a hospital. Malivert commits suicide, for reasons relating to some diamonds he obtained. Marianne now needs to find a way to sell the diamonds while trying to evade her husband's coworkers and other assorted baddies. Nathalie (Emmanuelle Seigner, The Ninth Gate, Buddy Boy) is an employee of Vincent's. Marianne believes she was having an affair with Vincent, but, like much else in the movie, she may be wrong.

Marianne is essentially trying to put her life back together. She is recovering when her husband dies. Events are spiraling out of control, and she can do nothing to prevent the consequences. It seems that every time she does something, it cascades into something worse. She has no idea what to do. And neither does the audience. There is great emphasis on performance, and this manages to overshadow some of the lighter plot elements. Deneuve is as great as always, but it just isn't enough. There is a point at which the film loses momentum, and Place Vendome toes the line between an extremely deliberate pace and boredom. Take away some of the long silences and the movie could easily be at least half an hour shorter and a little more exciting.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 57 minutes, French and English with English subtitles, Not Rated, but minor language and minor minor nudity, would probably be a PG-13.

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