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Wayners Plays with Russian Dolls

Published October 9, 2006 in DVD News
By Wayne Aronsen | Image from Amazon.
Russian Dolls Russian Dolls
Russian Dolls is a winsome French comedy with an international cast. Director Cedrik Kapisch regroups some of his players from his 2002 film, The Spanish Apartment, as the same characters these few years later: Audrey Tatou (the most familiar to American audiences), as Martine, Kelly Reilly as Wendy, and the main character, Romain Duris as Xavier, the precocious rascal in search of love, and often possessed of too many females in the process.

Russian Dolls DVD Review

Xavier narrates his story, while ostensibly writing it on a train ride (on a bullet train, itself playing a comedic character though out the story) and mirrors our irascible and lovable main character’s reckless rush though bedrooms and boardrooms–as a freelance writer.

Kapisch includes those typically wry and silly moments of fantasy to flavor the comedy of the film. One is the reoccurrance of Duris’ character in triplicate, unseen to other actors, playing the flute, finessing those around him like the pied piper.

But Xavier’s laissez-faire attitudes toward love lead to some distressful complications and his prodigious agility is not enough for him to keep his balance with Wendy (Reilly).

Martine(Tatou) is Xavier’s peevish ex-girlfriend who still relies on our hero’s kindness, a quality that keeps him sympathetic to the audience (especially all those hopeful mothers, waiting for the right girl to come along for their own rascal sons).

All the characters appear emancipated on the outside, but unfulfilled inside.

The free love really leads to a fractured and sometimes absurd existence which Kapisch plays on for his comedy.

With the women looking for trust and Xavier for lust, only two letters separate those two words, but it might as well be light years; until he lands beside Wendy. Will Xavier ever leave the fast train? You’ll have fun watching.

The title does not refer to Russian snow bunnies; rather, those peculiar canister dolls, one inside the other, until you reach the last one (the one Xavier is looking for).

There is a Russian sequence: all the Spanish pals meet in St. Petersburg for a wedding between the American character, William (Kevin Bishop), and (my mistake, there is one Russian doll) a ballerina (Evguenya Obraztsova). But what’s a romantic comedy without a wedding to get everyone back together?

The clever mix of nationalities keep us wondering– what makes relationships work? Is it possible for a young French man and an English woman to coexist? Maybe it’s a respite after some of those petulant and fearsome French girls. So American men? Don’t forget to pack your charm and wit if traveling to France. Maybe this film will give you some pointers.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Wayne Aronsen
Sources: Image from Amazon.

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