Chinese Puzzle (‘Casse-Tête Chinois’)

COMEDY; 1hr 53min (French with subtitles, English)

STARRING: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cécile De France, Kelly Reilly

Moving on: Duris

Forty-year-old Xavier Rousseau (Duris) is a successful writer and something of a personal screw-up. Vowing to be a good, ongoing dad, he follows his prickly, British ex-wife, Wendy (Reilly), and their two young kids to New York City, where he’s an immediate poisson out of water. “Why is my life … such a fucking mess?” he can’t help but plaintively want to know. 


With a tourist visa, no legal job, limited English, a hastily arranged sham-marriage and his sensual lesbian bestie (De France) insemination-pregnant with his baby, it’s apt that Xavier is simultaneously working on a novel called Chinese Puzzle, about the complexity of life, Euro-style.


The path he carves for himself is largely uphill but never hard going: writer-director Cédric Klapisch keeps the circuits humming, the performances are likeable and light, with Tautou adding a dash of pixie dust as an ex-gf who could be a second chance, and Xavier is a resilient soul, elastically rebounding from deftly shot slings and arrows.