EVERY JACK HAS A JILL
Jack (Justin Bartha) decides to take the romantic Paris vacation he has won despite just being dumped by his girlfriend. Chloe (Melanie Laurent) lives alone in Paris in a life that is not in line with her expectations. When Chloe accidentally ends up with Jack's suitcase, she decides to open it and is taken by the contents. She falls in love with Jack, even though she knows nothing about him - except for the contents of his suitcase - and decides she is going to find him.
Review by Louise Keller:
Does the contents of a suitcase spill the beans about its owner? That is the premise of this soft rom-com from first time writer director Jennifer Devoldère, in which Jack the awkward American (Justin Bartha) meets Chloe (Mélanie Laurent), the pretty blonde French girl. The question that Devoldère is really asking, is whether reality can live up to expectations. The idea is valid, but the film stumbles and crumbles in the wake of an underdeveloped script that hasn't really been thought through its consequences. There are some charming moments however, and the film provides entertainment for the undemanding.
Bartha last played the hapless bridegroom in The Hangover, and here he plays Jack, whose Coke can has just won him a trip to Paris. When his mother wheels out his father's old red suitcase for him to take on his trip, its significance goes over his head. So does Gabriel Garcia Márquez?' book One Hundred Years of Solitude, which his friend slips into his suitcase 'in case he gets bored'. Not so Mélanie Laurent's Chloe, who finds the case, opens it and plays mind-games with his owner, when she plants photos and puts in train a treasure hunt that brings them together.
Every Jack Has a Jill (Jusqu'a toi) seems to want to be another Amélie, but that it is not. Nor does Laurent have the magnetism of Audrey Tautou. Even at just under 80 minutes, the film lags, despite some sweet ideas, including Maurice Bénichou's Paris hotel receptionist, who quickly loses all sense of co-operation when he realises that no suitcase means no tip. There's plenty of anticipation, but when Chloe and Jack finally get together, the fireworks are sluggish. Perhaps it is the lack of charisma of both characters that make us shrug off any emotional involvement, which is why we don't care what happens to either.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
An excellent idea for a transatlantic romantic comedy, Jennifer Devoldere's screenplay feels somewhat under-developed and undisciplined, leaving the work of engaging the audience entirely to her fine cast. Melanie Laurent is likeable and charming as a flighty professional whose love life is underwhelming, and Justin Bartha makes his underdog character as real as the script allows. The problem is that Devoldere has not based the story on anything serious. We don't develop an attachment to the characters because they have so little to lose as far as we can see.
And when audiences do not invest in the characters, they lose interest. The story is one dimensional and skips along the surface. There are important details omitted - such as the discovery of the whereabouts of the owner of the suitcase with mistaken identity, in Paris of all places.
For a film that is telling a story of travel and movement and switching relationships, the camera is surprisingly static, and the plot struggles to remain relevant. The transatlantic jumps are perfunctory and tend to leave us behind, but there a few scenes that work well; just not enough of them.
Published first in the Sun-Herald
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EVERY JACK HAS A JILL (M)
CAST: Melanie Laurent, Justin Bartha, Valerie Benquiqui, Billy Boyd, Maurice Benichou, Geraldine Nakache, Yvon Back, Dorothee Berryman, Jessica Pare, Jackie Berroyer,
PRODUCER: Brune Chiche, Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Maxim Remillard, Andre Rouleau, Yann Zenou
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Devoldere
SCRIPT: Jennifer Devoldere
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Arnaud Potier
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Herve Gallet
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Vendetta Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 1, 2010