Film-Forward Review: [NOVO]

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Eduardo Noriega as Graham
Anna Mouglalis as Irene
Photo: IFC

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NOVO
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Limosin.
Produced by: Hengameh Panahi.
Written by: Christophe Honoré & Jean-Pierre Limosin.
Director of Photography: Julien Hirsch.
Edited by: Christine Otero Roth.
Music by: Kraked & Zend Avesta.
Released by: IFC.
Language: French with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: Switzerland/France/Spain. 93 min. Rated: R.
With: Eduardo Noriega, Anna Mouglalis, Nathalie Richard, Eric Caravaca & Paz Vega.

Another Lothario saunters through the streets of Paris absorbed in reverie. But where Romain Duris of The Beat That My Heart Skipped swaggers, Novo's Eduardo Noriega skips. Handsome with puppy-dog eyes, the bashful Graham (Noriega) docilely drops trou at the command of his chic, blond boss (Nathalie Richards). Irène (Anna Mouglalis), a beautiful temp in the same office, also knows a good thing when she sees it. Because of Graham's short-term memory, each of their rendezvous is like the first time. His limitations in no way hinder his performance as a love machine. With a sense of wonderment, he knows instinctually just what to do as Irène teaches him a new trick every night, with the aid on an ice cube or a steam kettle (I wouldn't try the last one at home). Working as the office copier, Graham's like a hot Forrest Gump.

Everyone takes advantage of Graham, knowing he canít remember what just happened. Even his wife Isabelle, who Graham sometimes remembers, makes the best of his mental relapse - a man like Graham can't be betrayed (which even he realizes in one of his more lucid moments). His best friend Pete (Eric Caravaca) has his own sinister motives. Walking a few steps behind Graham, Pete frequently keeps an eye on him, looking for signs of a recovery.

Made in 2002 but only now being released in the US, this is Groundhog Day for the randy or 9 Ĺ Weeks reduced to 9 Ĺ hours. Granted, if the genders were reversed, the film would be brazenly sexist and possibly repugnant. As it is, it's only mildly provocative. It certainly holds interest as it lays down its premise, but Novo is really a 90-minute concept. There's no pay-off. Once it's established that Graham has only an intermittent memory, there's really nothing at stake.

Pete and Isabelle barely register as characters. Eric Caravaca delivers a too understated performance, and unlike her turns in Sex and Lucia and Spanglish, Paz Vega's wattage is on way low. Only Nathalie Richard really relishes dominating Graham and playing a heavy. Noriega does what he can with the child-like role, which, like the film, is limited. Kent Turner
September 21, 2005

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