While being blessed with the genes of iconic French filmmaker parents like Agnes Varda and the late Jacques Demy could bestow someone like offspring Mathieu Demy with uncommon talent – not to mention a distinctly advantageous head start in life – the opposite may also be true. That is, a child confronted with the challenge of enormous shoes to fill. And let’s just say that in the case of Mathieu Demy, one size in no way fits all.
Demy has written, directed, produced and starred himself in Americano, which is almost never a good thing. In other words, second opinions are immensely beneficial, and not just when it comes to doctors. His first venture in feature filmmaking after having spent his career as an actor, Demy’s emphasis is squarely on theatrics as opposed to storytelling, and it shows.
Seemingly intent on impressing viewers as tortured soul Martin but coming off more as a showoff stud, Demy opens Americano engaged in a graphic fornication fly-on-the-wall, captive audience sex scene with Chiara Mastroianni. Likewise the child of iconic parents Catherine Deneuve and the late Marcello Mastroianni, Chiara has apparently consented to the cameo hollow role of throwaway sex doormat, and she could have done a whole lot better.
Chiara as Claire intermittently frets about Martin, primarily long distance back in Paris. After he takes off for California to settle the affairs of his recently deceased, long estranged mother. And Claire is quickly set aside as several other women materialize and wallow in similarly self-debasing roles, ranging from slut to shrew. First there’s Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of the late Charlie Chaplin and continuing the procession of the who’s who of humiliation in this movie.
Chaplin is Linda, a close friend of Martin’s late mom and such an insufferably grating busybody, that there’s enormous audience relief when he callously ditches her. Though doing so in the act of stranding Linda while stealing her car – and heading to Mexico to find clues about his mother from a woman named Lola – shifts undue attention as to how the Frenchman managed to breeze across the border without benefit of a license or papers.
Eventually Martin hooks up with Lola (Salma Hayek). Or is she? Trust me, you won’t care. She’s a combo stripper/hooker in a Tijuana dive who wants nothing to do with him, but he doesn’t get the message. And she continues to give Martin the brushoff between assorted extraneous criminal acts that Mexican caricatures tend to do, reluctant paid sex with her eager French stalker, and aggravated weird arson, don’t ask. As Salma flaunts her bared assets suggestively in the least appealing way you’ve ever seen her at it before.
Okay we get it, Demy. You’re vying for the next big sensitive guy sex symbol in movies. But sorry Mathieu, you’re no Brad Pitt.
1 [out of 4] star