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‘Marcello Mio’ Review: Christophe Honoré’s Toe-Curling Meta-Comedy

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Celebrities: they’re not identical to us, precisely, however they’re human simply the identical. Which is why a number of the present discourse round “nepo babies” should be slightly wounding for showbiz scions nursing their very own insecurities about their expertise, their repute and their place on the planet — even when the prudent factor to do, from a PR perspective, is to overtly examine your privilege and transfer on. But no matter diploma of sympathy one would possibly really feel for actor Chiara Mastroianni — the daughter of Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni, a blinding legacy to bear however maybe not a simple one — largely evaporates by the tip of “Marcello Mio,” a vastly indulgent however gossamer-weight little bit of frippery from French writer-director Christophe Honoré, wherein Mastroianni channels her late father to more and more contrived comedian impact.

So wink-wink it will probably barely see straight, so inside-baseball it’s virtually buried beneath the pitcher’s mound, the movie is constructed on the type of hyper-meta conceit that might be cute as a skit, would possibly simply stretch to a brief, however can’t survive a full two-hour function padded with subplots that vary from the gruesomely twee to the merely nonsensical. A curiously flimsy choice for Competitors at Cannes — a Particular Screenings slot may need engendered extra goodwill whereas bringing the identical star wattage to the purple carpet — “Marcello Mio” will discover its most receptive viewers on residence turf, the place the movie’s surfeit of in-jokes relating to Mastroianni’s real-life connections to different solid members (together with ex-husband Benjamin Biolay and shut buddy Melvil Poupaud) will imply quite extra to audiences than they may to these overseas.

“Play it more Mastroianni than Deneuve,” says director Nicole Garcia (performed, certain sufficient, by Nicole Garcia) to our heroine throughout a halting, awkward audition for her newest movie reverse veteran actor Fabrice Luchini (performed, certain sufficient, by — nicely, you get the thought). “Personally, I was aiming for Chiara,” the actor replies with the type of edge in her voice that you just would possibly nicely purchase from a lifetime of comparisons to your extra celebrated mother and father. In spite of everything, there was just one Marcello Mastroianni, simply as there is just one Catherine Deneuve, and no different actor would get this specific be aware from a director, so why would she take it significantly nicely? And but we type of know what Garcia means: The elder Mastroianni’s onscreen presence was so ethereal, so attractive, so wryly assured thereof, and so innately Italian that it might sound a rarer and extra valuable commodity on this extraordinarily French trade milieu.

Both manner, Chiara (first-name phrases appear much less complicated at this level) can’t fairly let the director’s throwaway remark go. Born, raised and nonetheless primarily based in France, and with no first-hand reminiscence of her mother and father being collectively, she has at all times felt much less recognized together with her father than together with her mom; thirty years after his dying, she feels, it’s time to redress the steadiness. She gained’t simply “play it more Mastroianni,” then — she’ll develop into him outright. Donning a brief darkish wig, a black fedora and heavy-rimmed glasses, Chiara slips simply into the iconography of her father within the period of Fellini’s “8½,” whereas including a natty stick-on mustache makes her an inexpensive if considerably androgynous ringer for him in “Divorce Italian Style.”

The drag act is profitable sufficient to embolden her additional, as she totally subsumes her id into his. Befriending Colin (Hugh Skinner), a homosexual, lovelorn English soldier on a midnight mope via Paris, she introduces herself with out hesitation as “Marcello Mastroianni,” and so the metamorphosis of types is full. If Colin is bewildered however accepting, her nearer family and friends are merely bewildered. Deneuve humors her daughter whereas fearing she’s having some type of breakdown, in style singer Biolay does a double-take when she turns up as Marcello to sing a duet with him at one in every of his live shows, whereas Poupaud is mortified for his pal, fearing she’s doing herself a disservice in defining herself solely by her lineage.

Garcia is extra blunt when “Marcello” turns as much as their subsequent studying: “What is this bullshit, Chiara?” she asks, and even at this pretty early stage within the ruse, viewers might discover themselves siding with the exasperated director. For Euro-cinema buffs, there may be some poignancy in seeing Chiara’s picture overlaid with that of her father, and her rueful, weak exchanges together with her still-imperious mom carry a bittersweet emotional cost, nonetheless fabricated they might be. However Chiara’s journey into Marcello merely isn’t fascinating or identifiable sufficient to hold a lot dramatic weight, not least when the movie principally performs it for laughs: a climactic journey to Italy, the place she intends to unveil the “new” Marcello Mastroianni on an area discuss present, devolves right into a frantic, farcical chase, with no precise jokes to maintain it afloat.

Chiara/Marcello’s burgeoning friendship with Colin — the movie’s one totally fictional character, performed by Skinner with an comprehensible air of stiff-upper-lipped befuddlement — is a detour into treacly whimsy that, even given the final twirly randomness of proceedings, corresponds to nothing else in Honoré’s script. Satire, the plain tonal course for this sort of insider-y lark, is in surprisingly quick provide all through, as is the type of cracked-mirror showbiz surrealism that makes “8½” so enduringly haunting. “Marcello Mio” winds up saying little or no about trade energy constructions, and even in regards to the barbed nature of movie star. What it does say, it says in full earnest: that Chiara Mastroianni, whether or not as herself or her father, is fabulous sufficient to advantage this sort of gauzy, starry-eyed valentine. Perhaps so, although if she made the hassle to play it extra Mastroianni, couldn’t Honoré have performed it slightly extra Fellini?

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