(director/writer: Benoit Jacquot; screenwriter: Jerome Beaujour; cinematographer: Caroline Champetier; editor: Pascale Chavance; music: Dvorak; cast: Virginie Ledoyen (Valerie), Benoit Magimel (Remi), Dominique Valadie (the Mother), Vera Briole (Sabine), Michel Bompoil (Jean-Marc), Guillemette Grobon (Mme Charles), Thang-Long(Mr. Tranh), Aladin Reibel (M. Sarre), Jean-Chrétien Sibertin-Blanc (Patrice), Virginie Emane(Fatiah); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Philippe Carcassonne; Strand Releasing; 1995-France-in French with English subtitles)

A fascinating revival of the French New Wave for a very 1990’s slice-of-life film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A fascinating revival of the French New Wave for a very 1990’s slice-of-life film directed with verve by Benoit Jacquot (“Seventh Heaven”/”Sade”/”The School of Flesh”) and co-written by him and Jerome Beaujour.

The moody beautiful 19-year-old Valerie Sergent (Virginie Ledoyen)tells her sullen unemployed Parisian boyfriend Remi (Benoit Magimel) she’s four weeks pregnant and wants to keep the child, even if he doesn’t. They are meeting at a café early in the morning, just before she’s to report for her first day of work as a room-service waitress at a nearby luxury hotel. This leads to a spat and she tells Remi she’s late for work and to sit tight, that she’ll meet him here in an hour after the breakfast rush and they’ll continue the touchy discussion about their relationship. For the film’s next hour we follow in real time how Valerie handles the hectic job and its pressures that includes grief from cranky hotel guests, a hostile female boss (Guillemette Grobon) subjecting Valerie to a humiliating job interview over why she left her last job, a piggish waiter (Michel Bompoil) who makes a clumsy pass, a frosty female co-worker(Vera Briole) who is jealous of her beauty and just the stress in getting the hang of the job. After an hour there’s a break in the action and Valerie sneaks out of the hotel to meet again with Remi.

The part of the unique film showing how it is on the job is dazzling; it lets you into the behind the scenes operation of a major hotel and leaves you feeling pleasantly dizzy. But the epilogue, also filmed in real time, is merely conventional drama, showing Valerie’s single mom (Dominique Valadie) minding her working-girl single mom daughter’s baby boy in a Paris park. It seems tacked on and very ordinary, losing the quirky nervous energy that fuels the main part of the film with its tension, its sense of urgency and its morality concerns.

A Single Girl Poster