Nicola Rose’s debut feature Goodbye, Petrushka is a little film with a big heart.
It tells the story of Claire (Lizzie Kehoe), a struggling New York puppeteer who by chance bumps into a similarly struggling figure skater, Thibaut (Thomas Vieljeux), from Paris. Her film studies course is going about as well as her puppet skills, so she hedges her bets and follows her heart to Paris to seek out the man of her dreams.
The pair strike up an unlikely allegiance and plan a show combining puppets and ice skating.
A loose homage to the French New Wave follows, with echoes of Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7. However, where those New Wave characters exude cool, Rose’s characters emit a high level of dappiness, bordering on the unhinged.
If you enjoy over-acting and impossible romance, then there is much to enjoy here, but there is a danger that if you are more a fan of less OTT comedy, you may become irritated before long.
Claire’s friend and mentor in love, Julia (Casey Landman), is both funny and charming, but also loud and neurotic, take your pick. Her offer of a pair of condom tights to Claire is bordering on the insane.
Whilst the acting is a little hokey, an early scene between Thibaut and his agent is particularly creaky, the narrative is sweet enough to win you over. The Paris scenes (which I am convinced are shot in New York with some stock establishing shots to glue them together) are also charming, and the indie/low-budget nature of the film helps us to forgive some of these slight shortcomings.
Minor characters pad out the cast in some awkward love scenes, and Joëlle Haddad Champeyroux plays every receptionist in the film, a bizarre but successful directorial decision. The family whom Claire works for as an au pair is a little grotesque for the otherwise sweet tone of the film, and her encounters with children and their parents are overtly sinister and unpleasant. It becomes, at times, a cross between Matilda, Coraline and Amelie. This does add an extra dimension to the film, however, and holds interest effectively.
It’s a kind of Sunday night movie that somehow stays in your head afterwards, a little bit longer than you would expect. It’s meant to be daft and that’s what makes it endearing. Whilst there is no great underlying message beyond the romantic meanderings of some unlikely love interests, it is a cute slice of escapism that, on the whole, just like Cupid, hits the mark.
For more information on the film, visit the Official Facebook Page.