Movie Review: “Girl on a Bicycle”

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“Girl on a Bicycle” is a feather-weight Paris romance that’s like that old
Euro-joke about who runs heaven and hell.</P>
Heaven, it goes, is “where the police are British, the cooks French, the
mechanics German, the lovers Italian, and it is all organized and run by the
Swiss.”

Hell has German police, British cooks, Swiss lovers, French mechanics and is organized and run by
Italians.

The Paris of “Girl on a Bicycle” has an Italian tour guide (and lover), a
German stewardess (and lover), a ditzy French model (and mother) and an Irish
tour guide, cynic and sometime lover, all variations on the theme of that joke.
They’re all thrown together for a romantic farce that only rarely measures up
to its lighter-than-air premise. Passions collide, feelings are hurt, wrong
conclusions are leaped to and arguments are had — in the multiple languages of
this cosmopolitan city. Fortunately, the Lingua Franca of this Paris is English,
the only language they all speak and understand well enough to fall back on.
Unfortunately, the lack of a language barrier doesn’t help.
Paolo (Vincenzo Amato) is an Romano-centric tour bus driver who regales
tourists with his take on the Arc de Triomphe, among other attractions.
Of course, “If you want to see a REALLY beautiful arch, you must go to
Italy.”
Greta (Nora Tschirner) is his longtime German stewardess girlfriend, the
woman he proposes to after three years. She’s even willing to indulge his kinky
side, sexually.
“TALK to me in German,” he purrs.
“You can’t make love in German. You can only…organize.”
Paddy Considine plays Paolo’s tour bus driving pal, Derek. He’s the guy Paolo
confesses his sudden infatuation with this beauty he keeps seeing, on a bicycle,
on his bus route. Cecile is a clumsy but gorgeous and uninhibited model. And
Derek’s advice to Paolo — “Just talk to her,” to get her out of his system, is
nothing but trouble.
Next thing we know, Paolo’s run over her with his bus and finds himself
caring for the injured Cecile and her two bambinos, little kids who mistake him
for their father. Next thing after that, Greta is confiding her suspicions to
the seductive pilot Francoise, who explains men to her.</P>
“Italian men think that ‘Fidelity’ is the name of the woman who lives across
the hall.”
Screenwriter (“The Legend of Bagger Vance”) and sometime writer-director
(“Don Juan DeMarco’) Jeremy Leven trots out national cliches like this by the
bushel basketful. The Irishman sings in bars in his off hours, the martinet
running Cecile’s bath soap photo shoot is a Brit, and so on.
The comic irony in Paolo having to be the organized one, getting the kids off
to school, or in the German Greta being a true romantic, is all that passes for
depth here. Cecile is more a lovely plot device than a character, as is the
ever-explaining, always unshaven Francoise (Stephane Debac).
“I just wanted to make a memory,” Paolo says at one point, a goal most film
romances share. But with this “Girl” and her bicycle, the cute bits, rare laugh
out loud moments, occasionally zippy lines and limply obvious farcical
predicaments are never more than instantly forgettable. 

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MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality, nudity and language
Cast: Vincenzo Amato,  Nora Tschirner, Louise Monot, Paddy Considine
Credits: Written and directed by Jeremy Leven. A Monterey Media release.
Running time: 1:40

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