Film-Forward Review: [AND NOW LADIES & GENTLEMEN]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Patricia Kaas & Jeremy Irons

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Directed by: Claude Lelouch.
Produced by: Lelouch.
Written by: Lelouch, Pierre Leroux & Pierre Uytterhoeven.
Director of Photography: Pierre-William Glenn.
Edited by: Hélene de Luze & Vanessa Basté.
Music by: Michel Legrand.
Released by: Paramount Classics.
Country of Origin: France/UK. 126 min. Rated: PG-13.
With: Jeremy Irons, Patricia Kaas & Claudia Cardinale.
DVD Special Features: English & French Subtitles.

London: A dapper Scotland Yards detective (Irons), warns the Bulgari boutique of an impending robbery. Paris: An attractive blond chanteuse sings in a jazz club. Intercutting between this international man of mystery, Valentin Valentin, and Jane Lester (Kaas), And Now Ladies and Gentlemen is a cross between To Catch a Thief with shades of Dark Victory. After a relationship perfunctorily falls apart, Jane begins to forget lyrics in mid-performance. Incongruously, her manager sends her to a posh resort in Morocco to croon by the pool. Meanwhile, Valentin likewise blacks out while sailing around the world on his yacht, named And Now Ladies and Gentlemen, and is marooned in Morocco. They meet through their doctor and the couple make tentative steps towards a relationship, even as their mental states worsen and Valentin becomes a crime suspect.

With charming wit, Irons brings an effortless arrogance and insouciance. However in many scenes, Kaas acts tentatively. Only when she encounters Valentin does she become playful and spontaneous. Actually, Sylvie Loeillet as a Moroccan woman who aids Valentin upon his landing has so much charisma that you might wonder who is the leading lady. Valentin and Jane’s dialogue contains such profundities as “Without memories, everything is new,” “Things never happen like we think they should” and “In love stories, there are more copiers than experts.” Kaas sings nostalgic standards such as “Autumn Leaves” and “I Wish You Love,” but the arrangements are reminiscent of an airport lounge. The lush desert photography, the sweeping score by Michel Legrand, and the international setting might appeal to fans of director Lelouch (A Man and a Woman) and glossy 1960s romantic capers like Arabesque or Charade. (Certainly Cardinale’s casting as a countess is a nod to this era). However, because the majority of scenes are drawn out and obviously improvised, this disjointed and rambling confection will have limited appeal to others. Kent Turner
August 1, 2003



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