It's really hard not to root for someone with the can-do spirit of French actress Julie Delpy, straddling the worlds of indie auteurism and transatlantic mainstream. But by the same token, it's also infuriating to see her more than evident talents unharnessed, just popping off in every direction. Lolo is her latest effort as actress-writer-director, continuing her run of family comedy with an edge after the 2 Days in Paris/2 Days in New York films and Le Skylab, pitting an insecure middle-aged event organizer (Ms. Delpy herself) against her scheming 20-year old son (Vincent Lacoste). The self-centered Lolo is intent on sabotaging his mother's latest romantic attachment, this time to Jean-René (Dany Boon), a provincial programmer transplanted to Paris.
Part warm-hearted, freshly observed romantic comedy about dating in your forties (good), part acid farce about the modern "kangaroo" kids who keep moving back in with their parents (bad), Lolo is never really quite sure on which side of the line it wants to fall. It ends up choosing the mean-spirited, petty tone of Lolo's egotistical, self-absorbed schemes as a pretext for cheap laughs at the hapless Jean-René's expense; as played with a quasi-psychotic glint by the sneering Mr. Lacoste, the character becomes an utterly irredeemable opportunist, a cartoon villain with no depth and no positive qualities whatsoever, moving Lolo into an entirely dislikeable comedy of discomfort. It's a misguided choice from Ms. Delpy, because every time Lolo focuses on the easy-going rapport between her and Mr. Boon, the genuine warmth and wit of their romance (nicely scripted and played by the leads) shines through, suggesting a much funnier film left by the wayside. Ms. Delpy's films have usually been all over the place, but Lolo picks entirely the wrong place to settle in at length.
France, 2015, 99 minutes
Starring Dany Boon, Julie Delpy, Vincent Lacoste, Karin Viard
Directed by Ms. Delpy; screenplay by Ms. Delpy and Eugénie Grandval; cinematographer Thierry Arbogast (widescreen); music by Mathieu Lamboley; production designer Emmanuelle Duplay; costume designer Pierre-Yves Gayraud; film editor Virginie Bruant; produced by Michael Gentile, for The Film in co-production with France 2 Cinéma, Mars Films, Wild Bunch and Tempête Sous Un Crâne Production
Screened December 10th 2015, NOS Amoreiras VIP 1, Lisbon