The Girl From Monaco (2009)
Directed by Anne Fontaine
Screenplay by Anne Fontaine, Benoit Graffin
Starring Fabrice Luchini, Roschdy Zem, Louise Bourgouin, Stéphane Audran
French with English subtitles
Run Time: 95 minutes
The Girl from Monaco is an engaging and stylish film that explores the encounters of a mismatched trio and the life-altering events they ignite.
A brilliant but neurotic Parisian criminal defense attorney, Bertrand (award-winning actor Fabrice Luchini) goes to Monaco to defend a murder case against Edith Lassalle (Stéphane Audran) a famous 70-year-old women. Bertrand, a middle-aged prissy bachelor, is cultivated, cerebral and serious. He loves to seduce women, but only verbally. He abandons them before getting physically involved, as he fears the loss of control.
Because of the notoriety of the murder case, the defendant’s family hires a zealous bodyguard, Christophe (great performance by Roschdy Zem). Christophe is frank, direct, quiet and athletic.
Having dropped out of school in the seventh grade, he admires in others the culture and the command of language he lacks. In juxtaposition to Bertrand, Christophe loves women, except to talk to them.
When Bertrand arrives in Monaco, he becomes transformed. The stunning scenery, the blue sky meeting the Mediterranean Sea, the bright sun, the sensual colors and the free and casual atmosphere all combine to loosen Bertrand’s reserve.
Instead of focusing on the case, Bertrand allows himself to become mesmerized by Audrey, (newcomer Louise Bourgoin) a young, gorgeous, sexy local weather girl who throws herself at Bertrand — every man’s fantasy. Bourgoin is perfect for the part, since she was a weather girl herself.
Audrey embodies the sensuality and recklessness that Bertrand lacks. However, Audrey is as ambitious as she is uncontrollable. Words such as “boundaries,” “taboos,” and “qualms” are not in her (limited) vocabulary. Audrey soon tries to take over Bertrand’s life and turns him into a complete wreck—emotionally and physically.
While Bertrand loses himself in his relationship with Audrey, Bertrand and his bodyguard, Christophe, gradually form an unlikely friendship. Christophe, who had a fling with Audrey two years back, views her as unworthy of Bertrand’s adoration. Or perhaps he feels a glint of jealousy.
Christophe takes his mission so seriously that he feels responsible for his “master’s” life, and progressively takes things into his own hands. Eventually, Christophe’s actions go so far that everything topples over. Nevertheless, the relationship between Bertrand and Christophe continues to grow stronger as each feels responsible for the other’s actions.
The Girl from Monaco is a very French film. Superficially, the film is lively and comedic. Yet, as the three characters’ interactions develop, the film grows more serious. While the somber last third of the movie is quite a shift from the comedic first two-thirds, it generates many ideas to ponder.
I suppose that The Girl from Monaco would have been a more cohesive film had the ending continued in its amusing lighthearted vein, but the film is not about cohesion. And then we would have missed the depth of performances given by Fabrice Luchini and Roschdy Zem.
The marvelous Monaco scenery and the alluring Louise Bourgouin are eye candy enough to keep audiences very engaged in The Girl from Monaco.