L Movie Review 2

You can be forgiven for wondering if the new Woody Allen movie, Coup de Chance, is not actually a new Woody Allen movie. (Even the words “new Woody Allen movie,” in 2024, elicit the kind of dread foreboding Oscar Wilde has reportedly said to have felt on hearing the statement “I had a very interesting dream last night.”) It’s in French, for one thing, but what seems like the unavoidable takeaway is that the film feels like a spawn of AI: Prompt the aggregating/homogenizing cyber-Moloch of your choice with something as simple as “Woody Allen jealousy drama, in French,” and push Enter. What you’d probably get is what we have in the film: a tissue-thin riff on Woodian reflexes, cliches, tendencies, shortcuts, and cheap ideas, glossed over with an Uncanny Valley unrealness, as predictable as a cookie mold and as free of human contact as a hologram.

But then, the now 88-year-old auteur has in effect been his own AI for more than a quarter-century, robbing from himself and repeating and recycling his short shelf of plots, characters, and jokes far beyond the point of diminishing returns and into an anemic space of near-nothingness. With hardly a single convincing image or line in it, Coup de Chance plays like the 20th photocopy of Café SocietyCassandra’s Dream, and Match Point, themselves faded rips of threads from Crimes and MisdemeanorsHannah and Her Sisters, etc. It’s like one of those “perfect” AI-spat model shots, bled down from thousands of other images: the too-shiny skin and empty eyes of no real person at all.

The plot could fit on a matchbook: Luscious Lou de Laâge is stopped on a Paris street by old schoolmate Niels Schneider, who’s “a writer,” and who mentions over a dozen times that he had a crush on her when they were younger. But she’s married to shady financier/control freak Melvil Poupaud. Despite her extreme wealth — the couple’s apartment is typical Woodian real-estate porn, complete with a gym and a room devoted entirely to Poupaud’s lavish toy train table — de Laâge’s doe-eyed heroine falls for the tousle-haired artiste, who of course lives in a garret. Poupaud’s glowering alpha then gets suspicious and hires a detective. Things go south, mostly offscreen, in ways that will be as familiar to you as the wallpaper facing the toilet in your home. There isn’t much more to it. Not to spoil a party or anything, but I also must take encrypted note of the story’s climactic moment, which arbitrarily involves characters we’ve never met, and puts the term “deus ex machina” to shame.

Scrupulously humor-free — unless you find lines like “There’s no gift like the gift of poetry!” funny — Allen’s film doesn’t contain a single dialogue exchange that isn’t sodden with obvious exposition, a single character who isn’t a cliche, or a single performative moment that doesn’t feel like a hurry-it-up table read. The boxes for every hoary old American idea about the posh life in France are checked: frog legs, walks through the Tuileries, fabulous wine with lunch, the vine-covered hunting lodge, the adorable garret.

It’s all talk, of course, and Allen’s screenplay, again coming off like a chatbot that doesn’t know when to stop, is comprised almost entirely of bland (and recycled) aphorisms about love and luck and constantly reiterated facts about the persons involved, often coming out of the mouths of ancillary characters at parties: The normally pleasant de Laâge just “isn’t herself,” Poupaud is mysterious and ruthless but devoted to his wife, Schneider never stopped thinking about de Laâge. Even the cinematography, performed by 83-year-old Vittorio Storaro in the always-dusk yellows and oranges he used in Wonder Wheel, seems machine-conjured — ripping off the master’s analog magic-hour masterpieces of the ’70s (The Conformist1900Apocalypse Now) and scrambling them with a good dose of Thomas Kincaid. Everything is redundant, including this review.

Here’s some optional homework: Look at Allen’s 16-feature run from Annie Hall (1977) to Husbands and Wives (1992), and watch the one you remember least instead. It might make your April.  






Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.