The students who met in Spain in 2002's "L'Auberge Espagnole" are reunited five years later in "Russian Dolls." Xavier (Romain Duris, "The Beat That My Heart Skipped"), now 30, scripts a TV soap opera and ghostwrites celebrity memoirs. He wants a more stable life, but not enough to move beyond a series of quick romantic conquests. Xavier has remained friends with former girlfriend Martine ("Amelie's" Audrey Tautou), now a single mother. Martine is not afraid of speaking to Xavier with a hard-edged honesty. Isabelle (Cecile de France), a lesbian now working in the stock market, remains Xavier's confidante on his relationships with women. (De France, who received France's equivalent of the Oscar, the Cesar, for Best Female Newcomer for "L'Auberge," was awarded the Cesar for Best Supporting Actress for this film.) And William (Kevin Bishop), Xavier's British friend, falls in love with a Russian ballerina without knowing her language. The international group of friends plans to meet in Saint Petersburg for William's wedding.
As in "L'Auberge", director/writer Cedric Klapisch utilizes a visual playfulness, as in scenes where multiple images of Xavier fill the screen. The actors create engaging characterizations of young people continually evolving. "Dolls" has a lively pace through a variety of locations. There is a more serious tone than in the earlier film as Xavier and his friends begin to establish their careers and seek deeper relationships than in their carefree student times. Xavier's search for love is compared to opening a series of Russian dolls hidden inside each other.
Starring Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cecile de France, Kelly Reilly and Kevin Bishop. Directed and written by Cedric Klapisch. Produced by Bruno Levy. An IFC release. Romantic comedy/drama. French-, English-, Russian- and Spanish-language; subtitled. Running time: 129 min