Cinema snobs everywhere delight in announcing how much they adore French films and how dreadful all that American rubbish is. They always mistake Parisian couples pondering their relationships over fine wine, for subtlety, and deem car chases to be much worse than swearing in front of the Queen. They are, in short, the kind of folks who could so easily be corrected by firing squad.
In the absence of a handy gun, they can instead be forced to watch this understructured ramble, a French tale (by a Paris-based Russian director) about privilege and poverty. It concerns a son from a rich family who decides to slum it by washing plates at a café in a scummy neighbourhood, and a poor, aspirational train cleaner with a nice tweed jacket and a borrowed motorbike who pretends to be what he's not. Their two worlds collide on streets peopled by petty thieves and pensioners too poor to move out and, eventually, at the rich kid's swell family home where his mother spends seconds with her children in-between business appointments and his alcoholic father is consigned to his room with his train set.
Iosseliani's insistence on capturing the rhythms of real life, and the trivial bits and bobs which make up an ordinary day, means that he has all but forgotten to give his characters life and his story even low-wattage drama. Some scenes, for no good reason, are much too long, and others intrude bluntly at entirely the wrong times. Even a semi-documentary approach needs shape. A car chase would certainly have helped.