Directed by Pascal Arnold (who also wrote the thing) and Jean-Marc Barr, American Translation is yet another movie that we’ve seen done numerous times before and done better.
Young Aurora (Lizzie Brochere) can speak both French and English and when she hooks up with young Chris (Pierre Perrier) he likes to occasionally ask her to speak in English for him, despite the fact that he can’t understand a word that she’s saying. The relationship gathers momentum quickly and soon the two are doing what all young lovers rushing everywhere do, in the movies anyway, and Aurora finds out some things about Chris that she struggles to deal with.
American Translation is one of those movies that I didn’t think was made any more. A French movie full of sex, nudity and stereotypes of the worst aspects of French people. Hell, there’s even a ménage a trois in the mix and you can hardly get more French and sexual than that phrase. It’s a film that feels as if it would have been dated over ten years ago and it has absolutely nothing good to give audiences.
The performances are brave, if not really all that good. Pierre Perrier isn’t a charming enough young actor to put any spark into his appalling character while Lizzie Brochere fares a bit better though never really gains your sympathy thanks to her placid, passive way she simply tolerates everything from her new man in the first half of the movie. Co-director Jean-Marc Barr is onscreen briefly but easily shows his experience from past movies.
The technical aspects are just fine, the movie simply suffers from a central character who comes across as a horrible ass from start to finish, no matter how the movie then twists and turns to reveal more.
It doesn’t help that the film ends with a couple of excerpts and quotes from studies of a subject matter that it seems to want to give some earnest treatment. Perhaps the good intentions were there but this film just doesn’t say anything interesting or thought-provoking about the darker side of the human psyche. It’s far too busy showing us a series of ugly, unsexy, over the top displays of affection from two people so desperate to show each other, and themselves, that they are really fully loved up when everyone else already knows the truth of the matter. And I HATE those kinds of displays of affection.
American Translation is showing on Sat 25 June and Sun 16 June at The Filmhouse – I leave that choice very much up to your own taste.
DIRECTOR: PASCAL ARNOLD, JEAN-MARC BARR
STARS: PIERRE PERRIER, LIZZIE BROCHERE, JEAN-MARC BARR
RUNTIME: 109 MINS APPROX