CFS: ‘Avenue Montaigne’

Stephanie Simmons

Attention, s’il vous plaît! Francophones and francophiles alike, take note: the next Cultural Film Series event will be a real chef d’oeuvre. (That means masterpiece, for those of you less inclined to take croissants with your morning coffee.) Whether you want to expand your knowledge of French culture, live vicariously through the European upper crust or simply check off another cultural event for ACS class, look no further than Danièle Thompson’s “Avenue Montaigne.”

This charming picture chronicles a young Frenchwoman who trades in her dull, provincial identity for life in the City of Light. Exhibiting a kind of Cinderella complex, she mingles with Paris’ elite as if she were one of them herself. Yet as such stories typically unfold, the privileged socialites end up taking cues from this unlikely heroine. Now keep in mind, this doesn’t mean “Avenue Montaigne” has the essence of a tired fairytale: Thompson’s sharp humor is equally weighted against dramatic undertones, and her take on love is far from trite.

This film speaks as a timeless voice behind the heart of passion, whether it be artistic, romantic or simply a love for all things French.

Ironically, Thompson is a closer match to the protagonist’s successful, artsy counterparts. Though “Avenue Montaigne” (or Fauteuils d’Orchestre, as it is known in the French community) is one of only a few films that she has directed, Thompson is well-accustomed to the world of film.

She has long encountered positive feedback on her writing- including an Oscar nomination for “Cousin, Cousine.”

Though it would be proper to attribute her success to bon travail, her knack for movie-making is mainly a by-product of her genetic makeup. (Her father, Gérard Oury, was a favorite of the industry.) It seems the good DNA made it to yet another generation, as son Christopher Thompson contributed to “Avenue Montaigne” as a member of the cast and collaborated with his mother on the script.

“Avenue Montaigne” will be screened in the Connelly Cinema as part of the CFS “Hidden Treasures” series. Show times are as follows: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:30 & 7 p.m.; and Monday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Keep in mind that this is a “bilingual” film shown in its original format, with scenes in both English and English-subtitled French.

Monday’s showing will feature CFS publicist Elana Starr, who will speak about the film and field questions after the screening. The engaging dialogue is a CFS tradition and is not to be missed.

Admission is $5, and students with a wildcard attend free of charge.