Girl on a Bicycle (NR)

February 14th, 2014
By Sam Weisberg
Girl on a Bicycle is like Micki + Maude minus the outrage, complexity or crack timing. In that 1984 Blake Edwards farce, a frazzled Dudley Moore impregnates both his chilly wife and his earthy mistress. The Paris-set Bicycle's convoluted plot promises a similar degree of chaos, not least because of language barriers among the characters. Mopey Italian tour bus driver Paolo (Vincenzo Amato) proposes to pert, no-nonsense German flight attendant Greta (Nora Tschirner), then becomes smitten with Cécile (Louise Monot), a ravishing bicyclist and model who's raising two kids abandoned by their Australian baby daddy. After Paolo accidentally runs over Cécile, he becomes her caretaker, pretends to be her children's estranged father and employs his foul-mouthed British pal Derek (Paddy Considine) to throw the increasingly suspicious Greta off his trail. Writer-director Jeremy Leven (who last directed Don Juan DeMarco 20 years ago, though he has since adapted a few tearjerkers, such as Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook) is too reticent to make Paolo a cad, so, unlike in Micki + Maude, there are no dalliances, and this meek dilly-dallier lies to only one of the women. Leven's skirting over the potential sexual tension between Paolo and Cécile is galling; instead, he zeroes in on Paolo's sappy budding relationship with Cécile's button-cute offspring. And it's inconceivable that the lame ploys Derek and Paolo come up with, such as Derek’s faking an illness, would fool the wise Greta. Leven throws in a good deal of bedroom romps and nudity, most enjoyably during the film's best scene, Cécile's botched commercial shoot for a slippery soap product. But not even these lustrous displays of skin overcome the film's lethargy — something you'd never encounter in even the worst of Edwards’ oeuvre.

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