Louise Bourgoin as TV weather reporter Audrey Varella in <em>The Girl from Monaco</em>.

Strange triangular energies configure this French film into a sex comedy with dark noir-ish doings as a backdrop. We get the idea from the opening scene, when our protagonist (Fabrice Luchini), a Parisian attorney down in Monaco for a fragile and potentially dangerous case, is sealing the deal on a seductive evening-in-progress, but is then interrupted by the irksome presence of a security detail (Roschdy Zem), retained to protect the man. Summarily, the protected and the protector meet, establishing a relationship with just a few words.

More than just the subservient foil in the scheme of the tale, the bodyguard possesses a keen understanding of the life and culture in this exotic place he calls “the rock,” a place ripe for a post-noir adventure with eroticism and party-timing abandon lurking in the wings. With the arrival of a beautiful young TV weather woman (Louise Bourgoin)-who’s also an ex-lover of the bodyguard-into the lawyer’s life and bed, the plot thickens. That process, in fact, takes place in a plot programmed to thicken beyond normal means, almost to a breaking point.

French director Anne Fontaine seems to recognize the logical links between the different elements involved in the film. She understands that sex-its scent, anticipation, and repercussions-frolicsome humor, and thriller elements can manage to intermingle. Somewhere in the midst of the light and dark aspects, we also are provided food for thought about shifting moral values and loaded allegiances. But philosophical asides are entirely optional, in a film where more immediately engaging surfaces and insinuations are enough to warrant our shallower attentions.

All told, the careful plotting of tensions and releases in Fontaine’s film, along with its tapping of various genres, may not ultimately resolve into something satisfying or cohesive. But boredom is never part of the curiously intriguing package. Call it a wannabe art film within the context of shameless, French-branded cinematic entertainment.


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