'Is anyone else hot in here?'



Film Sweet comedy drama Orchestra Seats demonstrates that major life changes are still possible no matter were fate has put you and how much your future is mapped out. A girl heads to Paris looking for her fortune finds herself working in a café at the centre of an arts district were she meets amongst others a pianist who is doubting his profession, an old art collector selling of all of his possessions and an actress desperate to move from the soap opera she's renowned for into movies. It's a faux-hyperlink film in which everyone meets in and around the café and swapping advice and making friendships.

With its Amelie tinged set up, the film certainly isn't going to win any awards for originality. But this lacks that film's much criticized stylization enjoying instead Allenesque romanticism and quick fire dialogue and the kind of comments on society that Cedric Klapisch achieves so well. It's the kind of stereotypical French film in which people sit around in interiors drinking wine, philosophically going over life's troubles to a soundtrack supplied by the likes of Charles Aznavour. The cast is also a who's who of contemporary French cinema with such familiar faces as Cécile De France, Albert Dupontel, Claude Brasseur, Annelise Hesme and even and oddly Sydney Pollack who are all playing variations on the kinds of roles they're known for elsewhere.

It could be argued that this does for Paris what Richard Curtis did for London what with constant appearance of the Eiffel Tower in almost every shot and references to other familiar landmark. But unlike Love Actually, you never feel as though your emotions are being manipulated and despite the light trappings most of the characters have some dark edges. It could be argued that director Danièle Thompson is specifically trying to satirize exactly this mode of filmmaking, with the actress in particular voicing some biting asides about the kind of casting that occurs in these things. That said, sometimes it's good to spend two hours in a fantasy and that's exactly what the film delivers right through to a climax in which all of the characters find what they're looking for and unstereotypically for a French film of this ilk without ambiguity or consequence.

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