5/26/09

Melodrama Habibi

This absurd little comedy, "Une chanson dans la tête" came to the 2009 SIFF from France, although most of it takes place in Lebanon.

An aging one-hit wonder named Bruno, played by Patrick Chesnais, is hired to sing his sole hit at a birthday party for a wealthy Lebanese woman who has fond memories of him and his hit from the 1970s. Although he has never been to Lebanon before, to his bafflement she clearly recalls a previous visit when she was a young woman (the literal translation of the title is "A Song in the Head"). As our financially strapped hero is nursing a bad case of unrequited love and a bit of a drinking problem, he reluctantly agrees to attempt a comeback.

As we become acquainted with her wealthy coffee-magnate husband, we are astonished when she is kidnapped. We are even more astonished when the men involved are more concerned about the Mercedes in which she was riding, than in her! Evidently kidnappings are pretty standard fare and it is just a matter of putting together the cash for the ransom and arranging the swap.

In the meantime we meet a cosmetician, played by the utterly gorgeous Pierette Katrib, who also is familiar with that same one hit from long ago. In her case it was associated with the death of her father when she was a child, thus it is a BAD memory. I was fascinated with Mlle. Katrib's face: She seems to be a blend of Sandra Bullock and Juliette Binoche. I hope we see more of her!

This goofy little movie wanders from farce to musical to romantic comedy, but we are never bored.