"Too Beautiful For You" is intriguing more for what it attempts than what it accomplishes. And the three main stars are perfect in fascinating character roles.
Gerard Depardieu, who seems to be in every other exported French movie (the 40-year-old actor has made more than 60 films in 20 years) is a well-to-do car dealer whose wife is the beautiful, aloof Carole Bouquet (perhaps best-remembered for her first film, Luis Bunuel's last, "That Obscure Object of Desire," as well as the James Bond thriller "For Your Eyes Only").
Bouquet is still an object of desire, so much so that that all their male acquaintances blatantly lust after her. But the film's irony is that Depardieu is having an affair with his temporary fill-in secretary, frumpy, overweight and undeniably charming Josiane Balasko.
Balasko lives with her boyfriend (Francois Cluzet again), a self-absorbed writer, and falls hard for Depardieu. When Bouquet discovers that Depardieu is cheating - and especially when she meets Balasko - she becomes quite despaired.
The performances here by Balasko, Bouquet and Depardieu are mesmerizing and quite convincing, and the film is laced with liberal amounts of offbeat humor, in particular a running gag about Schubert music, which provides the perfect climactic punchline.
But writer-director Bertrand Blier, who has also given us "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs," "Beau-Pere" and "My Best Friend's Girl," among others, has apparently been watching too many Jean-Luc Godard movies. "Too Beautiful for You" is loaded with camera tricks, flashbacks and flashforwards and such confusing elements as having Bouquet play another secondary role in the film.
His artificial, forced attempts at an artsy atmosphere nearly drown a story that would have been more effective if told in as straight-forward a manner as Chabrol's "Story of Women."
Still, the stars make this one worth a look. And Balasko is a particularly enchanting find.