La Petite Lili

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Ludivine Sagnier, who made such a splash just last year as an insatiable nymphomaiac in Swimming Pool, takes advantage of another opportunity to ooze her special brand of sensuality in the title role of Lili. The story is set at the sprawling country estate of Madame Mado Marceaux (Nicole Garcia), an aging screen actress who has recently completed a picture shot by her boyfriend Brice (Bernard Giraudeau).

Those familiar with Anton Chekhov's (1860-1904) "The Seagull" are most apt to appreciate this faithful adaptation of that Russian play by French director Claude Miller (Alias Betty). Though the tale has been revised to revolve around the cinema instead of the theater, the plotline otherwise follows the original's fairly closely, except for a slightly tweaked ending.
 Ludivine Sagnier, who made such a splash just last year as an insatiable nymphomaiac in Swimming Pool, takes advantage of another opportunity to ooze her special brand of sensuality in the title role of Lili. The story is set at the sprawling country estate of Madame Mado Marceaux (Nicole Garcia), an aging screen actress who has recently completed a picture shot by her boyfriend Brice (Bernard Giraudeau).
 She’s retired to her sumptuous summer retreat in Brittany where a dizzying roundelay of coupling and uncoupling is soon to ensue. The incestuous assemblage includes her unstable son, Julien (Robinson Stevenin), who is in the midst of a passionate love affair with Lili, a free-spirited siren from across the lake. Jeanne-Marie (Julie Depardieu), the janitor’s daughter, harbors an unrequited crush on Julien, while the janitor’s wife (Anne Le Ny) has her eye on Serge (Yves Jacques), the local doctor. And keeping score is Mado’s brother Simon (Jean-Pierre Marielle), the MD’s 70 year-old patient. In short order, ambitious Lili abandons her beau, seduces Brice and emerges as the hot new ingénue after starring in one of his movies. The just-dumped mother and son commiserate and convalesce, licking their wounds waiting for the right opportunity to confront their exes. Meanwhile, the rest of the folks are involved assorted hijinks of their own.
 Overall, this Chekhov makeover courtesy of Claude Miller has its magical moments, but it’s cluttered with more characters than this critic cares to keep straight while trying to read subtitles.

Good (2 stars)
Unrated
(In French with subtitles)
Running time: 104 minutes
Distributor: First Run Features

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