104 minutes | Not rated
Opened: Friday, May 15, 1998
Directed by Pascal Aubier

Starring Gregoire Colin, Jean-Claude Dreyfus & Dinara Droukarova

Cameos: Laszlo Szabo, Otar Iosselini, Alexandra Stewart, Ricard Leacock, Jean-Claude Brialy, Bernadette Lafont, Marie-France Pisier, Yves Alfonso, Macha Meril, Anemone, Stephane Audran, Bulle Ogier, Claude Chabrol & Jean Rouch

Homage to '60s French cinema likely to loose all but the aficionados

To folks with a working knowledge of New Wave cinema, "Son of Gascogne" will play like very clever in joke.

Resplendent with cameos by aging French film stars of the 1960s and peppered by homages that era's directors, for those in the know this film is probably as much fun as "The Player" is to American film buffs.

However, see this movie without a film studies course on your college transcript and half the picture will go right over your head.

A witty story about a lackadaisical Parisian tour guide (Gregoire Colin, "Olivier, Olivier") mistaken for the illegitimate son of a legendary director, "Son of Gascogne" follows angular but handsome young Harvey as his life briefly turns into a whirlwind of society dos and fawning celebrities.

He becomes the talk of the French aristocracy when a scheming limousine driver and beggarly hanger-on (Jean-Claude Dreyfus, "Delicatessen") starts passing him off as the son of Gascogne, a 20-years-dead auteur whose movies and lifestyle have posthumously taken on mythical proportions. Everyone claims to have known Gascogne so everyone wants to meet Harvey.

At first Harvey, a heavy-eyed and moody post-adolescent, is reluctant to be party to any of this. He doesn't trust his smarmy benefactor, a former child star desperately clinging to the fringes of the film elite social circle, and he has other things on his mind besides -- mainly a budding romance with an adorable, impressionable Russian girl (Dinara Droukarova) in a tour group to which he's assigned.

But Harvey never knew his real father, and before long he becomes attached to the idea of having a legendary dad. It gives him such a sense of identity that he soon starts to convince himself that he really is the offspring of this man everyone seems to love.

Director Pascal Aubier keeps the action light with sophisticated humor (although much of it is tied to the numerous cameos) and a fanciful subplot about Gascogne's fabled last film, which no one has ever seen.

He also pays homage over and over to New Wave classics, even re-creating a scene from Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" and editing it together with the same sequence from the original. (Aubier was Godard's assistant on that film.)

But unless you are an aficionado of New Wave cinema, the best part of the film is the secondary storyline -- the tender, first love between Colin and the beguiling Droukarova, both of whom portray the giddiness and the insecurity of young love deliciously.

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