A review of “And Now Ladies and Gentlemen” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: PG-13 for language, adult situations.  In English and French with English subtitles

Run Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes

 

 

Multiple storylines hang loosely together to yield a heist caper / exotic romance / date-with-destiny thriller that’s a mystifying melting pot of ideas.

The swanky fantasy world of pricey yachts and pricier gems is the setting for Claude Leloach’s (“A Man and A Woman”) romantic ode to the lost soul.  Valentin Valentin (Jeremy Irons) is an international jewel thief (and master of disguise) who’s successfully knocked over enough Bvlgari stores to call it a day and pursue his dream of sailing around the world.  Jane Lester (French recording star Patricia Kaas) is a throaty cabaret chanteuse reeling from a broken love affair and the desperate need for a change of scenery.

The two coincidentally (or not) end up in the same Moroccan hotel, destined to conjoin because of a shared tendency towards severe memory lapses.  Brain tumors or spiritual catharses?  Only screenwriter Leloach knows for sure.

Shot primarily in the sumptuous Moroccan cities of Fez and Essaouira, “Ladies” has an abstract, diaphanous quality about it.  The burgeoning relationship of the troubled lovers is heavily underscored by yards of gauzy desert wear and a sultry jazz score.  Leloach’s propensity for meandering cross-cutting is a headache – ultimately leading somewhere but taking eons to arrive.

Irons, who hasn’t aged well, shows flashes of the dynamic thespian we once knew and loved. Kaas isn’t much of an actress, but she can belt the hell out of such cabaret standards as “If You Go Away” and “What Now My Love?” The couple’s chemistry does not extend much beyond their mutually mysterious malady.  Kudos to Leloach for the effort – it’s nice to have an adult romance onscreen during the dog days of August.