A French director and his English actress muse used to be a couple in the '60s, but due to his indiscretions, they broke up. They meet again in the present day and the sparks fly.

1 Jan 2009 - 12:00 AM  UPDATED 23 Mar 2015 - 10:26 AM
The initial premise had potential, but alas, the cliched comedy, flat script and direction let down what could have been a great Anglo-French cinema coup.

Charlotte Rampling and Jean Rochefort: two screen giants who have left an indelible mark on cinema in their respective countries of England and France. Here’s an idea: cast him as a famous director and her as his muse and lover; have audiences rave at the collaboration, which becomes the talk of Anglo-French cinema, and then have them spectacularly break up. Sounds like a fool-proof plan, and it’s one that director Antoine de Caunes – who is better known for his acting and also presenting the cult TV show Eurotrash – succeeds at, albeit in an unconventional way. The opening credits of Twice Upon A Time tell the story of this relationship without a word being uttered: a montage of old photos of Alice d’Abanville (Rampling) and Luis Ruinard (Rochefort) communicates it in such retro style that you think you’re in for a real treat. Alas, the 90 minutes of cliched gags that follow have you wondering why Rampling, Rochefort – along with British actor Ian Richardson – took this on.

The plot is simple: Louis Ruinard’s career as a director is fading, while d’Abanville, Ruinard’s jilted ex-lover, is winding out her career on a credible high in the London theatre. An awards ceremony in Britain sees the pair reunited, and from there de Caunes grinds his way to a predictable reconciliation between the feuding couple, but not before subjecting his audience to a collection of caricatures worthy of Are You Being Served? As if trying to paper over the cracks in the script, Rampling and Rochefort try too hard and end up looking deadly serious. The funny thing is, once upon a time, these two would have avoided this sort of script.

Filmink 2.5/5