Russian Dolls

Opens at Big Picture Redmond and Northwest Film Forum, Fri., July 7. Not rated. 125 minutes.

Precisely observed, charming, and—for better and worse—light as air, Cédric Klapisch's update of his 2000 romantic comedy, L'Auberge Espanole, offers at minimum the pleasure of checking back in with a bunch of comely but hopelessly neurotic young things after five years of life experience have washed over them. The fly in the ointment is that Klapisch's alter ego, Xavier (played by Romain Duris, who gave a brilliant performance as an artistically inclined gangster in last year's The Beat That My Heart Skipped), has hardly changed unless you count the fact that he's stitched together a modicum of career success as a multitasking writer in the new world economy. Rushing between London and Paris via the Chunnel, Xavier further demonstrates his ongoing failure to commit to any one of a bevy of biddable women, among them Audrey Tautou, as his equally screwed up but terrifyingly candid ex, and the excellent Kelly Reilly, as an old friend with romantic troubles of her own. I leave it to you to decide whether Xavier is a compelling prototype of a new generation of deracinated globe-trotters or a royal pain in the ass. Russian Dolls is rarely less than engaging, but I was never able to make up my mind as to whether I was watching a movie trying, Truffaut style, to uncover its deeper meanings as it went along, or a serious attack of psychological vanity.

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