Movies: La Tournée ***
Published 10/12/2010 | 05:00
French character actor Mathieu Amalric is best known for his nervy performances in films such as Un Conte de Noel and Mesrine. However, he's also an occasional director, and in La Tournée he does everything but the on-set catering. Apart from directing and co-writing, Amalric gives himself the key role of Joachim Zand, a down-at-heel impresario who used to be a big shot.
Once a celebrated TV producer, Joachim's winning personality seems to have alienated just about everyone he knows. He has an ex-wife, an ex-lover, two kids and a former business partner, but no one seems that impressed with him, and at the start of the film he returns from a stint in America with a last desperate scam.
Zand has brought a troupe of American burlesque dancers for a tour of France that will conclude in a spectacular finale at a Paris theatre. But no sooner have they begun their tour than the wheels start to come off.
After Joachim's Paris venue falls through, his desperation starts to infect the entire party. He's a spivvy flake who rants on the phone, but he also has a generous side, and one of the girls begins to fall for him.
Although his direction is a little unfocused at times, Amalric handles key scenes pretty well, and constantly juxtaposes the girls with their drab environment. With their brightly dyed hair and heroic chests, the girls seem like exotic birds in the grey surrounds of Calais and Le Havre, and their camaraderie is touching. Amalric is a compelling actor, and Joachim Zand is a convincingly desperate creation, and the heart and soul of a slight but watchable film.