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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Americano
Directed by Mathieu Demy
MPI Home Video 02/12 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Not Rated

Martin (Mathieu Demy) is a Parisian real estate broker in his thirties. His regular routines are interrupted when he learns of his mother's death in Los Angeles. He had lived with her after she was divorced by his father but then was taken in by his dad in France. Martin is upset by the news for the wrong reasons: he wonders whether or not his mother really loved him. This unease about his childhood has caused the rift between him and his girlfriend Claire (Chiara Mastroianni) who wants to start a family. When she asks to join him on the trip to California to take care of his mother's affairs, Martin says no.

Arriving in Los Angeles, he is met by Linda (Geraldine Chaplin), his mother's best friend. She drives him to his mother's apartment in Venice and tries to assure him that she took care of her when she was dying. In a dark mood, Martin angrily tosses away into dumpsters and plastic bags all of his mother's clothes and possessions.

He meets a writer who still lives nearby and learns that Lola, the little girl he played with as a boy, eventually became his mother's good friend. The old man gives Martin a picture of the three of them together years ago. Unable to handle the sight of his mother's body at the morgue, he steals Linda's car and heads for Tijuana where Lola lived. He desperately wants some answers from her to explain why he had such a chilly relationship with his mother. Will Lola still be alive? What was the nature of her relationship with his mother? And out of all the people in the world, why would his mother leave her apartment to Lola?

Mathieu Demy directs this French film about the quest of a thirtysomething man to find out more about his estranged and mysterious mother. Martin finds Lola (Salma Hayek) is a stripper and prostitute in a place called Americano. She is reluctant to talk about the past and has no response when he tells her that his mother left her some paintings. Martin feels pressured from all sides as he tries to make sense of his quest which has brought him to the hellhole of Tijuana. He finds the answer where he least expects it. And some good emerges from the darkness of his journey across the border.

Screened at the Rendev-Vous with French Cinema 2012, Film Society of Lincoln Center

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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