Don Juan       French Film Festival

Laurent (Tahir Rahim) is in the charming Normandy seaside town of Granville to star on stage in the title role of Don Juan. A bitter irony for him, as he has just been jilted by his fiancé Julie (Virginie Efira) on what should have been their wedding day.

Seemingly unable to comprehend how his onstage character can have such success with women while in real life he has been left devastated and alone, he starts to see Julie in every woman he meets. His attempts to seduce them, using a sing-song voice (I wouldn’t go as far as to say singing – that would be too much of a stretch) end unsuccessfully, with the women angry and/or distressed while he comes across as decidedly creepy. And somewhat fortunate not to be facing charges, if the truth be told. All very unsettling and troubling.

However, before he gets the opportunity to upset the entire female population of Granville and possibly end up behind bars, the female lead in Don Juan quits, and is replaced by none other than Julie. Initially, they appear to be rekindling their romance, but this could be an instance of life imitating art.

It may be that the scope of the film – part romance, part comedy, part musical – requires too much ground to be covered for it to work as director Serge Bozon intended. Whatever the reason, what should have been a hotbed of emotions that explored the relationships between seducer and seduced and questioned whether Don Juan and his like are in fact conquerors of hearts or playthings of the bored, comes across as lifeless, sterile and lacking in depth.

An opportunity missed.

Jim Welsh

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