a cruel and burlesque fable

Lou de Laage in Stroke of luckthe new Woody Allen film. Thierry Valletoux

CRITICAL – For his first film shot in French, Woody Allen offers himself a fierce vaudeville-style counter with Lou de Laagence and Melvil Poupaud. A surprising surprise.

At 87 years old, Woody Allen has lost none of his malice. Presented in preview at the Venice Film Festivalthis 50e film by the director of Annie Hall could well be his last. However, he left himself some exit doors “in case we come to find him with new financing…” After the disappointing Rifkin’s Festival (2020), we no longer expected much from the aging New York filmmaker. Surprise! Stroke of luck restores beautiful colors to Allen’s work.

Filmed in Paris, and for the first time in the language of Molière, with local actors, this fierce tale has the false air of French comedy. A sardonic vaudeville oscillating between romance and thriller, the film features Fanny, a beautiful young woman with a porcelain complexion played by Lou de Laage (Jappeloup, White as snow…)

Cheating on husband and boredom

Married to a wealthy businessman (Melvil Poupaud) who pampers her like a trophy wife, the wife who wants to be rebellious and liberated is bored in this chic and flashy world of the beautiful neighborhoods. To better integrate, she worked in a gallery on Avenue Montaigne. It is in this street that she is addressed by Alain (Niels Schneider), bohemian writer who became infatuated with her in high school.

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These Proustian reunions take place under the sign of carelessness and desire. What a stroke of luck! Soon inseparable, these two flirt at the Jardin des Plantes, have lunch and stroll through the streets of Paris, which sports golden hues. They end up giving in to the transports of an almost innocent adulterer, who bursts into flames under the beams of an attic room.

Of course, Fanny continues to play the model wife at the social receptions and partridge hunting weekends organized by her husband. Melvil Poupaud is perfect as a pretentious, possessive husband, soon became a cheating husband as suspicious as he is manipulative. Humor and sarcasm are instilled in the plot by stealth while the film shifts into a thriller.

Coppery, resonant space

As a smart mom, Valérie Lemercier is funny and spicy. In the role of the budding investigator, she brings a lot of rhythm and suspense to the film. Finally, Woody Allen’s little music is there, sparkling like champagne, but with a touch of bitterness.

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A master of burlesque comedy and social satire, Allen, a lucid moralist, examines the small world of wealthy Parisians, while providing comical twists and turns. A fine observer who perfectly knew how to flow into this posh sphere, he created a cruel and twisting fable in the form of a variation on the theme of luck and the irony of fate.

This chance, precisely, Woody Allen uses at the beginning and at the end of the film, like a Hitchian cymbal crash which locks the story in a bry space, resonating with everything he has done before. The film is all the more explosive.

Le Figaro’s rating: 3/4

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