Agathe is a widowed film-maker returning to Paris with her late husband’s ashes when she meets a couple of Icelanders, a weed-smoking poet and her son. In a state of emotional distress she ends up inviting them to stay with her. This of course leads to all sorts of shenanigans involving the language barrier, a missing wedding dress, conspicuously hastily grown moustaches, ashes and discoveries of infidelity. In short it’s a cute and cuddly dramedy about a woman trying to overcome the loss of her husband and coming to terms with the fact that he may not have been all that great.
Queen of Montreuil feels almost like a screwball comedy (sans quickfire dialogue) crossed with European filmmaking sensibilities. It’s wonderfully wacky and is primarily focused on getting laughter out of you and sending you home with a smile on your face, largely ignoring the drama part of dramedy and instead using it to set up more comedic moments. It’s pure fluff but sometimes that’s just fine.
What keeps the film going is the consistency of laughs, many of which are out loud, and the borderline absurdities the colourful cavalcade of side-characters go to. We have a crane operator who’s less than interested in his job, a man hired to look after an abandoned zoo, a crossdressing male entertainer and a seal. Yes, a seal. She actually plays a rather big part in proceedings. But it’s really the leading trio, Agathe and the Icelanders that’ll capture your heart. They’re a loveable bunch, despite being less than stable people.
It straddles the quirkiness line rather well, though some might find it overbearingly so. The most obvious targets would be a handful of short, animated segments peppered throughout the film. They feel out-of-place and serve only to hit you squarely on the nose with the information that Agathe doesn’t quite have her life together, a fact that the film has already made abundantly clear. Detractors could also easily point to the fact that near the end the film clearly skips a couple of steps on the road to Agathe’s emotional catharsis. There’s also a seriously grating and repetitive guitar theme that rears its head far too often throughout the film. That’s not enough to seriously harm the film but they’re blemishes none the less.
Final Verdict: Queen of Montreuil is a charming and cute film sure to have you laughing, leaving you in good spirits. It might not be the most original or thought provoking film on the block but it’s still a whole heap of fun.
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*Reviewer’s note: The projection of the film was sub-par, the digital video lacked clarity and was borderline fuzzy. The film was also very jerky, most likely due to poor compression. This did not affect the overall score as it is auxiliary to the film itself but did mar the viewing experience.