At first glance, French comedy/drama Kings And Queen is a film of two halves: one following twice divorced single mum Nora (Emmanuelle Devos), the other Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), an ex of our heroine who's been committed to the funny farm by accident. But look closer and you'll see that this is a crazy patchwork quilt of a movie, hopping from Greek mythology to rap music to random flashback in the blink of an eye. Such a scattershot approach isn't easy to keep up with, but the film hits more than it misses.
Take the performances, for example. While it's Amalric's wired comic energy that grabs the attention first, in the end the honours go to Devos. Delving into long-buried memories sparked by news that her dad (Maurice Garrel) is dying, she runs through every emotion under the sun. Then there's the legendary Catherine Deneuve, who lives up to the film's regal title better than anyone as Ismael's reproachful psychiatrist.
"BRACINGLY UNPREDICTABLE BUT SHAPELESS"
But even with a star of her stature on board, the king of Kings is still helmer and writer Arnaud Desplechin, whose directorial whim dominates proceedings. All the wild shifts in style make for a film that's bracingly unpredictable but also shapeless; fun to observe but a struggle to get fully involved with. But if the film is less than the sum of its parts, then some of those parts are touched by genius, like a convenience store robbery that could be a scene from La Haine. If the idea of too many ideas doesn't irk, then you're in for a royal time of it.
In French with English subtitles.