Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

My weekend trip around the world continues, after leaving Japan and ĎApartment 1303í and arriving in France, a trip which also involves a day trip to Russia in Cedric Klapischís film ĎLes Poupees russesí or for those of you who donít speak French, ĎThe Russian Dollsí. This film is a follow up to the directors film from three years ago ĎThe Spanish Apartmentí which is a precursor to the lives of these vile characters I had to watch in this film. I havenít seen ĎThe Spanish Apartmentí and I wonít be seeing ĎThe Spanish Apartmentí since we must assume that our young adults have grown with age, and if this is what they have grown to become, then heaven forbid what they were like before the growth spurt occurred.

Romain Duris reprises his role of Xavier Rousseau, an aspiring writer living in Paris and attempting to find his way to love in a loveless world. Xavier begins his story while writing on a train that takes to shuttling him between London and Paris, informing us of some epiphany has had while attending a good friends wedding in St. Petersburg Russia, but we have to go through over two hours of exposition before we get to the grand epiphany as itís time to rewind the clock.

Here are a few things we know about Xavier. One is that he has no home in that he sponges off the kindness of his friends, and quite honestly he doesnít seem all that interested in acquiring a place of his own. Now one would think that a 5í6" 135 pound out of work writer with no home and an excess of body hair would take what he could get when it came feminine companionship but my friends, whoever invented the word Ďplayerí, had Xavier Rousseau in mind. Xavier seems to have a particular fondness for his ex-girlfriend Martine (Audrey Tatou) but for whatever reason their relationship didnít work out. Guess I would have to watch the first film to find out why and that

ainít happening. Regardless, in a vulnerable moment Martine still tried to get X to have sex with her but he turned her down. Why, Iím not sure. You could say because perhaps he didnít want to take advantage of her in her sensitive state, but he had no problem taking advantage of anybody else sexually.

Moving on, X moves in on the shapely African born Kassia (Aissa Maiga), who he beds and discards. But then X realizes his good friend Wendy (Kelly Reilly) is his one true love as they enjoy some fun bedtime antics, but alas she canít be nearly as true a love as the lovely princess Natacha (Evguenya Obrastsova) who he abandons Wendy for. Oh but that may have been a mistake as we get flashback on some of the other supreme hotties that super player Xavier has toyed with in the past only ultimately to find himself alone as per usual. Will Xavier finally come to his senses and experience the love that is love?

As Xavier narrates the film he mentions something near the end comparing his liaisons to being Russian Dolls or something but being as how I lost interest in this overly long experience in endurance I canít tell you exactly what it means in relation to the rest of this movie. I liked the visual cues that Klapisch used throughout his film and it felt creative and unique and it also had some real nice humorous touches throughout, but Xavier kept getting the way. This would be a problem since the story is about Xavier, but my goodness was he an unlikable character, with Kelly Reillyís Wendy coming in at a close second. The only good thing is that it looks like these two fictional characters may be getting together since they are perfect for each other.

Therein lies the biggest problem I had with ĎThe Russian Dollsí in that the main characters were so unlikable and immature that I could end up caring less if they found love or not. And if youíre watching a film that is what I suppose is a love story of sorts, and you dislike the characters looking for love, then ultimately you donít CARE if they find true love which kind of eliminates the purpose of watching it. Now as it so happens there are a lot people out there who actually love this film, and perhaps these are characters that they can identify with, I sure hope not, but this is a possibility. It is also a possible that itís been good catching up with characters who you may have been familiar with from the earlier film, and Cedric Kaplisch has a certain visual flair as a filmmaker that is unquestionably appealing, but that flair was wasted on these unappealing characters for me. Though Iím certainly no judge on what make some dude attractive to women, it seems that Romain Duris shouldnít be getting as much play from as many beautiful women as he received in this flick, but then like I said, what do I know about what some women may find attractive?

My journey around the world continues as I am happy as hell to get out of Paris and as far away from Xavier and his problems and am on my way to Italy where there are a bunch of immigrants looking for a new home in ĎThe Golden Doorsí.

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