Under the Rainbow
There is one particular Second Act segment of Agnès Jaoui’s latest effort that aptly summarises Under the Rainbow as a film: young composer Andro (Arthur Dupont) crafts a piece of innovative music for a recital that he’s invited his family to attend; just moments after it begins, his girlfriend Laura (Agathe Bonitzer) sits aghast amid the audience. “What is this mess?” asks the girl next to her, before promptly gathering her things and sneaking out. Laura stays, and is surprised to see a smattering of quiet nods of appreciation among the spectators. It is a scene that could genuinely be the opening audience for Under the Rainbow: some will just not get it, whilst others will watch with reticent recognition.
Admittedly, no viewer is likely to react quite like Laura in thrusting their hands to their ears to make it stop, with mild boredom the most likely reaction for those who don’t conform to Jaoui’s ideas. But for those who do, Under the Rainbow does have some nice moments. Often regarded as the French answer to Woody Allen, Jaoui’s writing has won several César awards, but the offbeat, quirky charm that made her 2001 film The Taste of Others such a success is just a little too stretched and erratic here to appeal to everyone.
Occasionally sharp and subtle, yet wildly uneven, Under the Rainbow is a close look at a web of Parisians, intertwining different generational strands for a crossover narrative that is underlined by fairytale themes and motifs. An intriguing idea that only sporadically works, there are references made to a mysterious woods, a wicked stepmother and Sleeping Beauty – some executed with an impressive satirical eye, and others merely glossed over. Jaoui herself plays Marianne, aunty of Laura, and co-writer Jean-Pierre Bacri plays Andro’s father, Pierre, a disgruntled cynic who gives Marianne driving lessons. Whilst Pierre is the pick of the bunch in terms of characters, Benjamin Biolay is also good as the slick and mysterious Maxime, with whom Laura is begrudgingly infatuated. The film jumps between characters and eases on through employment of consistently subtle comedy, and though it manages to evoke a few well-deserved sniggers, Under the Rainbow falters in its consistently inconsistent style. Exploiting the mundane nature of a modern-day fairytale, Jaoui’s efforts and ideas are more than commendable, but the results are ultimately patchy.
Under the Rainbow was released in selected cinemas on 27th June 2014.
Watch the trailer for Under the Rainbow here: