Published Nov 17, 2011An assumption about Jean-Marc Vallée's latest dalliance with artifice, Café de Flore — a superficial music video masked as highbrow art house cinema — is that it was inspired by Sigur Rós's video for "Svefn-G-Englar," seeing as halfway through the movie, the song plays while a slow motion montage shows two children with Down's syndrome falling in love.
Seemingly, he's mirrored his emotional experience with the video to his own life — or at least the stereotypical life of a privileged, solipsistic, 40-year-old white man — to create an exceedingly superficial treatise on the uncompromising power of love.
Told through two thematically connected storylines, Flore jumps back a few decades to tell the story of nascent mother Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis), whose decision to keep her mentally handicapped baby has left her single and alone in the world. This is oddly mirrored with the present day struggle of rich douchebag DJ Antoine (Kevin Parent), who's under the impression that he's in love with the vivacious blonde he ditched his wife and kids for.
Even though Jacqueline's story is somewhat obvious and handled with the grace of a drunken frat boy, it's by far the more compelling of the two, having some sort of humanity. Unfortunately, it's given far less screen time than Antoine's constant flowery justifications for thinking with his dick.
Since Vallée styles everything with constant musical montage, interweaving footage, storylines and timelines, occasionally making the non-diegetic a part of the active dialogue, it's easy to overlook that what's actually going on is slight and almost laughable. And there is something admirable about the amount of thought that went specifically into pacing footage and imagery with the soundtrack, trying to make something poetic out of a steaming pile of crap.
It's just that beyond the nice cinematography accompanying the music and Paradis's tough-as-nails performance there's really nothing going on here beyond self-aggrandizing male nonsense. (Alliance)