Making her debut as a writer/director, actress Cindy Lou Johnson (BRILLIANT TRACES, THE YEARS) shows more potential than accomplishment in this occasionally charming but unstructured romantic comedy. After bawling out a girl scout cookie seller, landscaper Claude (Mark Evan Jacobs) explains that he's just had a "really bad day." It's about to get worse....read more
Making her debut as a writer/director, actress Cindy Lou Johnson (BRILLIANT TRACES, THE YEARS) shows more potential than accomplishment in this occasionally charming but unstructured romantic comedy.
After bawling out a girl scout cookie seller, landscaper Claude (Mark Evan Jacobs) explains that he's just had a "really bad day." It's about to get worse. At the time of the cookie blow-up, he had already been dumped by his girlfriend for refusing to be happy with her and berated by his boss
for not digging holes correctly. While burning his photos of his ex-girlfriend, he manages to burn down his apartment building as well. He's then arrested for stealing his company's receipts, which he'd forgotten to deposit in the bank; released; and arrested again for burning down his building.
In both cases, he is bailed out by his eccentric family. Returning to the ruins of his building, Claude meets illegal French immigrant Beatrice (Irene Jacob) and a Cambodian orphan she's taken under her wing, Seap Sok (Nady Meas).
Beatrice is "on the lam" (or, "on the sheep," as she puts it in her comically mangled English) for trying to kill her husband, whom she thought wanted to be dead. She had rented a room in Claude's building the day he burnt it down. Out of pity and guilt, he invites Beatrice and Seap to stay with
him and his hectoring mother (Charlotte Moore), a closet sculptor; his dad (Pat McNamara), who's suffering from a midlife crisis of existential proportions; and his dotty grandfather (Leonardo Cimino), who likes to balance food on his head and takes an immediate shine to Beatrice when she returns
from a topless swim. Besides bringing a gleam to grandad's eyes, Beatrice's volatile personality acts as a catalyst on Claude, causing him to strike out and start his own business, and on his mom, who, auditioning an analyst for Claude, instead goes into analysis herself and is finally able to
bring her artistic ambitions out into the open. Even Dad is nudged out of his torpor by Seap, who "adopts" him in lieu of her rag doll thought lost in the fire. (In fact, Claude is secretly repairing the doll.) After some emotional gymnastics, Claude gets beyond his feelings of guilt toward
Beatrice, falls in love with her and marries her.
TRUSTING BEATRICE is not so much a film as a flood of eccentric characters and wacky situations. Though many scenes are cloyingly sentimental, and many reminiscent of TV sitcoms, there is an edgy undertone that keeps the whole thing from descending into primetime schlock. The film benefits
greatly from the presence of French actress Jacob, who made her name in the US with THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE and proves here that her initial success was no fluke. Despite being poorly directed and photographed, and saddled with a stereotypical "zany French chick" character, she proves a
radiant and vital presence. Though there's never any doubt as to what her character will do next, Jacob herself seems completely beyond predictability. (Adult situations, sexual situations.)