Everybody Loves Jeanne Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Celine Deveaux
Stars: Blanche Gardin, Laurent Lafitte, Nuno Lopes, Maxence Tual, Lisa Mirey, Marthe Keller.
Although the title of the French/Portuguese coproduction may remind many of the popular tv series Everybody Loves Raymond, this slight and underwhelming comedy/drama is far from a laugh out loud crowd pleaser.
Jeanne Mayer (Blanche Gardin, from France, etc) is in the midst of a midlife crisis. Seemingly self-assured and successful on the surface she is consumed by doubts and uncertainties after her latest project flops spectacularly. She is the founder of the Nausicaa project, which has developed the technology to recover plastics from the ocean, but during the highly publicised launch of the project it fails and Jeanne’s life begins to spiral downward. She is still struggling to cope with the recent suicide of her mother, and now on the verge of bankruptcy she decides to head off to Lisbon to sell her mother’s apartment. In Lisbon she reconnects with an old school colleague Jean (Laurent Lafitte, from Tell No One, etc), who himself is battling his own personal demons following a bout with depression which saw him institutionalised. He is also something of a kleptomomaniac and unreliable, but, accompanied by his precocious niece Theodora (Lisa Mirey), he charms his way into her life.
During her time in Lisbon she also has to deal with her former boyfriend Vitor (Nuno Lopes), a singer/songwriter with a new family. And she also receives help from her overprotective older brother Simon (Maxence Tual) in helping to pack up her mother’s belongings. Their mother was something of a hoarder and her apartment is quite cluttered. Jeanne also deals with a couple of venal real estate agents in order to put the apartment on the market.
Everybody Loves Jeanne is the debut feature for Celine Deveaux, a former illustrator who has made a couple of short animated films. She has drawn upon her background as an illustrator to provide the quirky touch of an animated mophead-like creature (drawn in black and white, and voiced by Devaux herself) to give some insights into Jeanne’s inner thoughts. The film deals with themes of failure, grief, midlife crises, loneliness, depression, anxiety and family, but the narrative itself seems episodic in nature and failed to engage me.
Gardin projects a tough and sometimes cold exterior for her character who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and makes Jeanne an unlikeable character. She also brings a jaded and cynical style to her performance, but she also manages to capture Jeanne’s vulnerability in a couple of scenes. Lafitte brings a rougish charm to his role and he and Gardin develop a prickly chemistry. Mathe Keller (Bobby Deerfield, etc) contributes a small but thankless performance as Jeanne’s late mother Claudia, with whom she has a difficult relationship.
Nonetheless the film looks great thanks to cinematographer Olivier Boonjing (Lola And The Sea, etc), who captures the beauty of Lisbon and the sunny ,Portuguese locations. There is also some colourful production design from Artur Pinheiro.