Chinese Puzzle(Casse-tête chinois)
Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris star in this French romantic comedy, set in New York and from the director of The Spanish Apartment. After his wife and kids leave him, Xavier (Duris) follows them to the Big Apple. There his adventure unfolds: from fathering a child for a lesbian couple and marrying a Chinese-American to get papers, to reigniting a flame with his first love.... More
Chinese Puzzle serves as the third in writer/director Cédric Klapisch's 'Spanish Apartment trilogy', all following the romantic exploits of Romain Duris' Xavier character.Hide
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BY Giles Hardie Flicks Writer
A French author in New York faces writer’s block, so he decides to write about his life. 'Why call your book Chinese Puzzle?' asks his publisher somewhat conveniently... so he explains. We jump back to find Xavier in Paris, a 40-year-old novelist, father of two and husband of one English woman, Wendy. His lesbian best friend Cecile asks him to donate sperm to her and her Chinese-American partner so they can be parents and soon after his wife goes on a business trip and meets someone.... More
When he realises his two children, his wife, his BFF and his semen sample have all migrated to New York, he follows suit. Throw in a green card marriage and regular visits to his Chinatown apartment by his toey French ex-girlfriend from before he was married, with two more kids in tow, and it all feels like some surreal pro-diversity sitcom.
Which is what this really is. From the extended opening credits on, this feels more like an episodic television farce than a cohesive stand-alone film. From the How I Followed Your Mother style narration Xavier presents to his publisher to the Post-Modern Family contrived situations they wind up in, this is an amusing multicultural mess that uses subtitles to help the audience keep up with the plot no matter what language they speak.
Not that it isn't fun. The adventures of this seemingly living Benetton commercial designed to explode the nuclear family make for very easy watching and Romain Duris as Xavier is intensely charming as ever. Yet somehow it never feels like it matters. Like a sitcom, it will all reset every half hour. No one acts as if anything really matters and ultimately it’s hard not to feel a bit the same.Hide