Wherever writer-director Anne Fontaine’s romantic drama The Girl From Monaco is headed, it’s in no hurry to arrive, and viewers’ patience with the movie will likely be tied to how much they’re enjoying the company and the scenery. Fabrice Luchini stars as a Parisian attorney (and unlikely lady-killer) working a mob-related case in Monaco. While there, he gets involved with gum-popping, happy-go-lucky sexpot TV weathergirl Louise Bourgoin, who either loves him madly or is working in an undercover capacity to undermine his professional resolve. The latter’s the primary concern of Luchini’s bodyguard Roschdy Zem, who does everything he can to minimize the distraction of Bourgoin—including sleeping with her himself.
The Girl From Monaco isn’t slow-paced. It’s slick and audience-friendly, even opening with a montage of romantic resort spots set to Nat King Cole’s recording of “L-O-V-E.” (Apparently that song’s not yet a cliché in France.) But as Luchini bumbles from one not-quite-comic-enough situation to another—from trying to get his horny married mistress to leave him alone to getting sickly drunk when he finds out that Bourgoin’s sexual favors are widely distributed—the movie feels so increasingly inconsequential that viewers may wonder if there’s something more sinister lurking under the sunny surface.
In fact there is a rather grim third-act plot-twist to The Girl From Monaco, though it resolves quickly and leaves behind still more questions. Is Fontaine just riffing on movies set in sunny, ritzy climes—from frothy comedies to Hitchcock—or is she making a character sketch that relies on our preconceptions about learned lawyers and club-hopping ditzes? Either way, there’s just not enough here to latch onto. More than anything, The Girl From Monaco feels like an excuse to put Bourgoin in a skimpy white sundress then send her off in the pouring rain, riding off on a motor scooter. Fontaine puts a string of similarly striking images in succession, but they don’t really coalesce into a movie.