Xavier (Romain Duris) spends time with his two children in the film Chinese Puzzle.

Xavier (Romain Duris) spends time with his two children in the film Chinese Puzzle.

French film opens complexities of the heart

Vernon Film Society screens French comedy Chinese Puzzle (Casse-tête chinois) at the Towne Cinema.

For its second film of the season, the Vernon Film Society has chosen the French comedy Chinese Puzzle, showing Monday, Jan. 19 at the Towne Cinema.

A famous French writer in his early 40s, Xavier Rousseau (Romain Duris) is frequently on the run.  Whether he’s chasing present or past lovers, his children, or his friends, the metaphor is clear — here is a fellow who is easily distracted and can lose sight of the things he wants and needs.

He’s led an interesting but nomadic life and just as he’s settling down in Paris to write about it, his British wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly) tells him she’s leaving and taking their kids to New York City.

Since his best gal pal Isabelle (Cécile De France) is also living there, and, worried about losing touch with his children, Xavier decides on a whim to leave Paris for New York, where his wife Wendy has just settled with their two children and her new lover.

He finds a place in Chinatown, with the help of Isabelle’s new Chinese-American girlfriend Ju (Sandrine Holt). Xavier hires a lawyer to assist in obtaining a permanent resident visa, which allows him to assert his paternal rights with Wendy.

Meanwhile, he begins writing a novel chronicling his happy and not-so-happy adventures in the Big Apple.

Two events make even more changes in his life: Isabelle asks him to be the sperm donor for a child she wants with Ju, and his ex-girlfriend, Martine (Audrey Tautou), arrives with her two kids for a visit. The stage is set for a thorough examination of the complexities of the heart.

“(The director) pulls out all stops for the grand finale, a hilarious scenario in which all the story strands are woven together with compounding zest and good humour,” said Louise Keller, with Urban Cinefile

The film screens Monday, Jan. 19 at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. Tickets are available one week in advance at the Towne and Bean Scene for $7 (cash only). The film is in French, English, Spanish, Chinese and Yiddish. Subtitles are in English.