The customers at the charming little Bar Des Théâtres bistro on Paris’s très chic Avenue Montaigne are having a rough week. There’s the aging TV actress (Valérie Lemercier) who’s desperate for the role of a lifetime—Simone de Beauvoir—but has to persuade the big American director (Sydney Pollack) to cast her over internationally known hotties like Monica Bellucci. There’s the great pianist (Albert Dupontel) who’s quietly cracking up under the strain of performing but fears losing his wife (Laura Morante) if he packs up his tails to commune with nature. There’s the elderly art collector (Claude Brasseur) who’s unloading his masterpieces at the auction house next door—to the anguish of his son (Christopher Thompson). What these people—and so many others—need is a little gamine in their lives.
Fortunately, she’s carrying their oeufs and brandies. The heroine of Danièle Thompson’s Avenue Montaigne is Jessica (Cécile De France), an ingenue from the provinces—a girl with long, coltish legs and sparkling eyes and a way of cocking her head in wonder at this brave new world and all the people in it. The old art collector shows her his Brancusi sculpture—one of five versions, he tells her, of The Kiss—and she says, “It makes you want to fall in love.” He says Brancusi would have liked to hear that. It’s too bad she can’t lift the spirits of the dead along with the living.
Avenue Montaigne would be difficult to stomach if it weren’t so light and uninsistent, and if its actors weren’t so charming. I still rolled my eyes—but sometimes I do that when I get a really good croissant.