|The Blue Room|
|The Little Bedroom|
It's been a weak year at the art house, especially for foreign films.
It started strong, with Italy's "The Best Offer," Chile's "Gloria," Romania's "Child's Pose," and Valeria Golino's "Honey," also from Italy. But those were the 3rd, 9th, 24th and 40th new films I saw this year. (The running tally is 223.) Since then, truly worthwhile foreign offerings have come few and far between: Argentina's "The German Doctor" (#72), France's "Yves Saint Laurent" (#124), and lower your voice.
The unfortunate trend continues this week with a trio of foreign features in which I found myself checking my watch repeatedly: France's frustrating "The Blue Room," as ephemeral as a smoke ring, with Mathieu Amalric as an agricultural sales rep with a wife and daughter who conducts a mildly kinky sexual affair with the town pharmacist (Stéphanie Cléau) that ends with both of their spouses dead, a movie consisting mostly of interrogation by a police prosecutor (Laurent Poitrenaux) and ending in a double trial (with a verdict that upsets one of the cheaters much more than the other) without ever telling us what actually happened; Britain's stilted, tortured, decades-out-of-date "Lilting," in which Richard (a one-note Ben Whishaw) takes forever to tell his late boyfriend's imperious Chinese mother (Pei-pei Cheng) her son (Andrew Leung) was gay, using a friend (Naomi Christie) to translate who appears to have no other demands on her time, a picture that will leave you asking "Who cares what this old biddy thinks?"; and Switzerland's promising but ultimately unsatisfying "The Little Bedroom," about the relationship between a nurse (Florence Loiret Caille) whose first child was stillborn (but who refuses to let her husband repurpose the titular nursery) and an elderly man (the always imposing Michel Bouquet) whose can't-be-bothered son places him in a nursing home after he suffers a fall, a film marked by static performances and directed with an aloof sterility by Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond.