starring Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Didier Flamand, Sylvie Testud
written and directed by Jesse Peretz
by Walter Chaw A comedy of manners and the almighty malapropism, Jesse Peretz's grainy DV picture The Château could almost be a dogme95 flick. The picture relies on acres of improvisation and that slapdash feeling of the seat-of-the-pants production hanging from a Jonathan Edwards-ian string over the abyss of self-indulgence and clattering dreariness--and succeeds, when it succeeds, based entirely on the timing and brilliance of its cast and the extent to which we remain disarmed by the incongruity of the setting with the subject. When that feeling of surprise and delight fades (and it fades midway), The Château's rough edges begin to show.
The primary problem with The Château is too long a leash afforded Rudd during an awkward drunk-scene, and too long spent in an unsatisfying subplot starring the once-ascendant Donal Logue. Chemistry between Rudd, Malco, and Testud is fantastically taut, yet the slapstick gyrations of the picture's working-class serfs play as part of a different film (and a different genre). The amount of enjoyment derived from The Château's oil-and-water scenario proves limited, in other words, and given too much time to consider the looseness of the piece, the picture begins to resemble the shapeless, grasping actors' workshop that it is. Originally published: September 20, 2002.