Stars align in Avenue Montaigne. One of the toniest streets in the toniest city in the world — Paris — Montaigne is a nexus of fashion and the arts and all the celebrities and hangers-on that that entails. That confluence is summed up in the Bar des Théâtres, a café that caters to two theaters and an art auction house, all of which are hosting big productions on the same evening.
Jessica (Cécile de France, High Tension) gets a job at the café so that she can meet luminaries. Catherine (Valérie Lemercier) is starring in a staging of a Feydeau farce, but she's also practically stalking famed director Brian Sobinski (Sydney Pollack), who's in town casting a high-profile biopic of Simone de Beauvoir. Lefort (Albert Dupontel, Irreversible) is a world-class concert pianist who's sick of the "chic, snooty world" of classical music. Grumberg (Claude Brasseur) is a rich old man selling his lifetime's work, his art collection, because he doesn't want to be a glorified museum guard. Claudie (Dani, Day for Night) is a theater concierge retiring after a lifetime of meeting, "tweaking," and idolizing pop stars like Gilbert Bécaud.
As a film that knits so many important characters into so many plot threads, Avenue Montaigne has a light touch. It name-drops Truffaut, Piaf, Sartre, Delon, and Binoche, among everyone else — Avenue Montaigne may be the Frenchest movie ever — and as stated microcosms go, it's anything but cloying.
Directed by Danièle Thompson and written by her and her son, Christopher (who also co-stars), the film is a delicious tart with characters deeper than their skin (but not too deep) and lines like, "Is he your good deed or your good deal?" Add in a vivacious climax that will leave you à bout de souffle, and Avenue Montaigne comes highly recommended.
Opens Friday, May 4th, at Studio on the Square