The French director and actor were in San Francisco to present their latest movie, Chineze Puzzle, that was part of the selection of the SFIFF.





You maybe know the 2 first episodes of the renowned French trilogy by Cédric Klapisch: L’Auberge Espagnole followed by The Russian Dolls. It all started with a group of European students settling down in Barcelona for a couple of months. Then we have followed Xavier (Romain Duris) and his friends (especially 3 girl friends) through their love stories, their success, their tears and their laughs.


With Chinese Puzzle, here there are again, in their 40s (rather late 30s)





Xavier's life is complicated but actually that's kind of the essence. Wendy (his wife) is leaving with the kids to New York. Xavier will follow them. Isabelle (his gay friend) is there too, married with a child... actually his child. And Martine will come and visit too. A comedy with serious subjects like divorce, globalization, illegal workers, immigration... The tone is very spontaneous and optimistic. It is all about life that goes by, troubles, how to go over them and in the end move forward.




Our interview...


It was a real pleasure to meet Cédric Klapisch and Romain Duris who were glad to attend the Festival and see how the American public reacted to the movie.


We have been talking directly about the philosophers in the movie: Hegel and then Schoppenhauer step in Xavier's life to give him some advice. The scenes are hilarious and we wanted to know if they had thought of other philosophers (if yes, which ones) and if it was like a wink at Woody Allen.


Cédrik explained that they had planned (and even shot a scene) with Nietzsche who was supposed to play a part when Isabelle gave birth to his son. But in the end, they did not even kept it as a bonus scene. Hegel and Schoppengauer are great (played by the same actor), meaningful and so funny. The lesson they teach is very important and at the same time, their presence is so surprising. That definitely sustains the comic effect and its efficiency. While it did not work that well with Nietzsche.

Cédric also agrees that there is obviously a connection with Woody Allen (with the philosophers, but also with the women escaping the magazine) who could have inspired some of these scenes where the most serious people (like Hegel ou Schoppenhauer) can all of a sudden be part of a witty situation.




We read that Cédric's ambition was to make a trilogy, Chinese Puzzle being the 3rd and last episode. But at the end of the movie, we could not help but thinking that it could not finish like that. The characters are so endearing that we would love to follow them way further. So what about a 4th episode?



Cédric explains that making a sequel could be dangerous. People could get bored. What is at stake is to keep the inspiration and the pace. But he admits that there are some ideas and situations that could be perfect, like Romain Duris's son (real life) leaving for Barcelona when he will be 20, following his father's track. That could definitely be a good start for a new comedy. Anyhow, it's in 15 years. Cédric and Romain have time to think of it. It cannot be a repetition but has to be surprising and original to be worth it. 



In the end, we have been talking about the american public and how the comedy, which is very French for certain situations, could appeal to them.


Romain explains that they attended different screenings to present the movie, including in New York. They (Romain and also Cédric) were pleasantly surprised by the public. They were expecting more French people in the audience that happened to be very local. And they loved how people laughed out loud watching the movie. They feel like there are 2 main reasons that can explain why the american public loves Chinese Puzzle. On the one hand, the comedy develops themes with honesty and truthfulness. On the other hand, people laugh at the cultural differences in behaviors and relationships. Romain insists on the spontaneity and sincerity of the movie and its protagonists. The comedy does not rely on outrageous and extravagant situations. It's just life, bare simple, and that is really part of the charm.






Chinese Puzzle

Opens May 23, 2014 in Bay Area

Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco

Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley.