On Tuesday April 22, Examiner.com was invited to Cohen Media Group's New York special screening of "Chinese Puzzle" at Landmark Sunshine. Notables in attendance included writer/director Cédric Klapisch, Romain Duris, Kelly Reilly, Li Jun Li, Sharieff Pugh, Jason Kravits, Natalie Stephany Segura, Adrian Martinez, Howah Hung, Phil Nee, Jenny Saldana, Yinka Adeboyeku with additional celebrity guests Michael Stipe, David D’Arcy, French actress Emmanuelle Devos, Zach Wigon and Stephanie LaCava.
The third part of the "L’Auberge Espagnol" trilogy brought back the classic humor, plot twists, and animation the first two had. The French film included its usual multilingual aspect, which serves as a comical liaison with the different cultures involved in the film. This time some of the Barcelona gang met again in New York City, where they are all experiencing a midlife crisis in their own way.
Xavier, played by Romain Duris, views the city that never sleeps in a metaphorical manner that is a magnificent representation of the city in a non-touristic way. In the scene were Xavier meets Wendy’s new boyfriend, he explains how a foreigner is perceived in the USA when they begin speaking to an American. It is a comical scene that brought laughter to the entire audience. Xavier thinks that the American guy is viewing him as if he were a renaissance explorer. This sort of representation of the diverse crowd seen in New York City is brilliant and hilarious.
There's one scene when Xavier, and Wendy played by Kelly Reilly are leaving the lawyer’s office and you can't help but wonder where the uninhibited British girl and French innocent guy that once lived in Barcelona went to?
The film shows a reality of growing older and fighting to feel alive again and happy about what is really important in life. One can see how each of the characters have evolved into the person they were supposed to be, and how they still have remainders of who they were in Barcelona and Russia. The fact that director and writer Cédric Klapisch is able to continue to make the life of these characters relatable to an international crowd is marvelous.
After following these characters for twelve years, and relating with them in the process, we hope there will be a fourth part that can tell us if life remains as complicated as a "Chinese puzzle," or if it becomes relaxed like a morning walk in the Barcelona streets.
Following the screening there was a Q&A with director Cédric Klapisch and cast members Romain Duris and Kelly Reilly, moderated by David D’Arcy. Read highlights below:
Q- There is a similitude with the scene in" L’Auberge Espagnol" when Wendy is running away from her lover when her boyfriend shows up, and when Isabelle is running away with her lover so her wife doesn’t find out. Is this intentionally done and if so what is the purpose?
Cedric Klapisch: This is film, everything is done on purpose! It is a funny situation both for the people that have seen the other two movies or only this one. I try to make the movie fun by itself for the people that have only seen this one.
Q: Why did you decide to make the story in New York City?
Cedric Klapisch: I have always wanted to make a film in New York, and also I like the fact that people don’t judge the others, and I like that anyone can come from different neighborhoods different origins, and you are free to be Japanese, Russian and be free to use your traditions and that is very striking.
Q: Was there anything you wish you would’ve expressed that you didn’t get a chance to in the film, now that is done?
Cedric Klapisch: What you see here is a midlife crisis pretty clearly, being forty and they are not happy with their couple. When they separate she decides it, but in fact they agree about separating. The whole film is about how you can find enthusiasm when you are forty and you miss something or you failed with something but there is still life in you. The idea is how you can find enthusiasm even though you are not happy or are depressed about something. The purpose was to show that at the beginning he is really depressed and not happy about his life, and how his life is complicated and how he is going to find more energy to keep living.
Q: Elaborate on the use of animation and technology in the film?
Cedric Klapisch: The animation is really a way for me to resume the two first movies in a very short time, and this happens and just go to the point when she asks for the baby and the animation helped me to go fast. It differs from L’Auberge Espagnol stylistically where I used split screen and acceleration and in this film I tried to move further with that idea when now virtual is part of life. You walk to the street and you compare what you saw on google maps and what you saw in real life. It is not only the virtual reality and reality but they are merged. The use of those technology showed that modern life has no frontiers between virtual reality and regular reality.
After the panel, guests headed over to Hotel Chantelle for Stella and canapés. "Chinese Puzzle" hits theaters May 16, 2014
Estefania Garcia-Correa contributed reporting.