The Clink of Ice/2011/87 min.
In film noir, Fate bides its time and waits patiently for opportunity. In acclaimed writer/director Bertrand Blier’s new black comedy, Fate — in the form of cancer — barges in, bosses characters around and jumps into bed with them.
“I have good news for you,” Blier told the audience before the film started. “My film is funny. It is about cancer.”
His deadpan preface was apt for this wry, contemplative movie.
Dour, binge-drinking writer Charles Faulque (Jean Dujardin) has distanced himself from the people closest to him (his wife and son, for instance) and lives alone with his maid Louisa (Anne Alvaro). Her employer’s cranky demeanor is a draw and she fantasizes about sleeping with him.
Charles’ discontent morphs into full-on angst when a malignant doppelganger (Albert Dupontel) shows up and inserts himself into Charles’ life. Not long after, Louisa finds that she too has cancer that’s represented by a random interloper (Myriam Boyer). Nothing like evil twins to bring two people together, right?
But Blier’s upbeat, good-looking film, with its spare script and arresting mix of music, doesn’t dwell on prognoses or potential farewells. Instead, the disease takes a backseat to the characters’ inner lives and evolving relationships, before Charles and Louisa concoct a brilliant plan to banish it once and for all.
After the film, Blier was interviewed on stage by another director, Jon Amiel, who described Blier’s film as “a beautiful, profound, funny and ultimately deeply optimistic.” Blier revealed a bit about his process, explaining that there are no rehearsals before shooting in order to heighten spontaneity (he just asks actors to learn their lines). “I like to discover the story at the same time the actors do,” he said, also acknowledging that he wants them to hold precisely to the script.
The son of veteran French character actor Bernard Blier, auteur filmmaker Bertrand Blier has consistently elicited powerful performances from his actors, particularly in his 1974 box-office hit, “Going Places,” which helped launch the careers of Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert.
Blier, who had the idea for “Clink of Ice” 25 years ago, said he still thinks of Depardieu when he’s writing any character, man, woman or animal. Blier also praised American actors, such as Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson, adding that Nicholson plays more like an Italian or French actor, with an air of, “I’m Jack Nicholson and you’re still going to believe what I’m telling you.”
Before seeing “Clink of Ice,” I attended a lovely reception in the DGA atrium. Guests sipped St-Germain cocktails and nibbled on delicious savory fare from caterer WCEP (West Coast Event Productions, 323-930-6785) and, for dessert, authentic French macarons, which were all-natural, handmade and gluten-free, from Les Macarons Duverger.