A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Casting can be the reason that one movie works and another doesn’t. It is the first reason for the success of “The Girl From Monaco,” the kind of romantic comedy with a twist that used to star Jack Lemmon. That kind of role is played this time by Fabrice Luchini, a 57-year-old veteran French character actor whose first significant role was 39 years ago, in “Claire’s Knee.”
He plays Bertrand, a smooth, powerful defense attorney, confident and well-known, who is hired for a difficult case. The millionaire widow Edith Lasalle (Stephane Audran) is on trial for murder in Monaco, charged with killing a reputed member of the Russian mafia, and she refuses to utter a single word in her own defense. From the day he arrives in Monaco, Bertrand finds himself shadowed constantly by Zem (Christophe Abadi), behind sunglasses, a tall, dark young man in a black suit and tie.
This is, he discovers, his bodyguard, hired by Edith’s son Louis (Gilles Cohen) because the Russians may represent a threat. Bertrand believes he is in no danger, doesn’t want a bodyguard, finds it absurd how Zem insists on entering his hotel room first and “checking the perimeter.” Zem is indifferent to his objections. He has to follow “protocol.”
This odd couple works because its members are so different. Bertrand is not tall, not handsome, very busy, suave. Zem is tall, handsome, formal and distant. No attempt is made to supply them with banter. They are both focused on doing their jobs. Into this mix comes a fiercely ambitious weather girl from Monaco TV named Audrey (Louise Bourgoin). She sees Bertrand as her meal ticket to get a better television job and wants to do an exclusive feature about the famous man down from Paris.