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'God' gets lost in details

January 31, 2003|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

"God Is Great, I'm Not" is far from great, and this off-putting French romantic comedy is sure to test severely the indulgence of fans of "Amelie." That film's talented star Audrey Tautou has here been encouraged by director-co-writer Pascale Bailly to mug, strike poses and bat her big dark eyes shamelessly -- and soon tiresomely.

Tautou's 20-year-old Paris fashion model Michele has just broken up with her boyfriend (Mathieu Demy) and feels overwhelmed by life to the point of feeling suicidal but eventually develops spiritual yearnings. So when she meets Francois (Edouard Baer), a 32-year-old veterinarian, she not only is swept away by his handsome looks and sophisticated charm but also by his religion. That he is a largely nonobservant Jew does not stop her from plunging into studying Judaism and Hebrew with such obsessive yet doggedly superficial zeal it's hard to believe she has any time to pursue her demanding profession.

Indeed, for all we know she may have abandoned it when she moves into Francois' elegant townhouse apartment -- he certainly must be remarkably successful to afford such a home in Paris. Their love life is great, but out of bed, relentless airhead Michele drives Francois nuts with her newly adopted religion. She is so wrapped up in Judaism, having blithely forsaken Buddhism, she is oblivious to Francois' views on religion. She doesn't even press him as to why he doesn't want his neighbors to know he's Jewish. There's also a tiresome subplot involving Michele's neurotic mother and her stepfather, whom she loathes to a degree that remains inexplicable.

To be sure, the situation between the lovers gets worse before it has a prayer of getting better. By then, however, it seems safe to say that many viewers will be way past caring.

*

'God is Great, I'm Not'

MPAA rating: unrated

Times guidelines: some sensuality, adult themes

Audrey Tautou...Michele

Edouard Baer...Francois

Julie Depardieu...Valerie

Mathieu Demy...Bertrand

An Empire Pictures release of a Les Films Alain Sarde/Dacia Films production with the participation of Canal Plus and CNC. Director Pascale Bailly. Producers Alain Sarde, Georges Benayoun. Executive producers Francoise Guglielmi, Christine Gozlan. Screenplay by Bailly, Alain Tasma. Cinematographer Antoine Roch. Editor Lise Beaulieu. Music Stephane Malca. Costumes Khadija Zeggai. Art director Denis Mercier. In French, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes. Exclusively at Laemmle Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 274-6869; and Laemmle Town Center, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 981-9811.

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