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Miss and the Doctors | reviews, news & interviews

Miss and the Doctors

Miss and the Doctors

A slight but likeable dramedy about a pair of brothers pursuing the same woman

Lady in red: Louise Bourgoin accompanied by her onscreen daughter played by Paula Denis in 'Miss and the Doctors'

This low-budget Parisian dramedy about doctor-patient relations is as odd, timid and well-intentioned as its socially maladjusted protagonists. Miss and the Doctors is writer-director Axelle Ropert's second feature after 2009's The Wolberg Family.

It's the story of a woman who bewitches two practically conjoined GP brothers - no surprise perhaps, considering she's played by the statuesque and striking Louise Bourgoin, better known as the titular adventuress in Luc Besson's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. Miss and the Doctors suffers from the surely curable affliction of a terrible title, but the original French one isn't much better - Tirez La Langue, Mademoiselle. Translation: Stick Out Your Tongue, Miss.

Judith Durance (Bourgoin) is the mother of a young diabetic Alice (Paula Denis). As a stressed-out single parent working night shifts in a cocktail bar she's forced to leave her sickly child alone at night. Her daughter is being treated by the Pizarniks: the shy, sweet Dimitri (Laurent Stocker, pictured below right with Cédric Kahn) and the gruff Boris (Kahn, the director of Roberto Succo), two forty-something brothers who function as one, not just sharing a practice in Paris's Chinese quarter but who see patients together from their joint consulting room and accompany each other on their rounds. Dimitri and Boris also share a dog (the appropriately monikered Aspro), live opposite each other and neither have a romantic or social life to speak of. This eccentric pair are both a neighbourhood joke and a much-loved staple of the community.

Miss and the Doctors is a slight but intermittently charming tale, appealingly old-fashioned, understated and a little uneventful. What has held the brothers back in life is briefly touched upon but this is a rare moment of credibly penned character development in an otherwise not terrifically convincing story. The brothers' attempts to woo the glamorous Judith seem at first as hopeless as they are hapless, with any reciprocation on her part derived more from practicality and politeness than love. But as the warm palette and tone might tell you it's the sort of romantically idealist film where one or other of the geeks stands a reasonable chance of getting the beautiful girl.

There's an uncertainty about what Ropert wants her film to be (apparently her primary inspiration was Frankie and Johnny, though it's not the first film that springs to mind) and her direction is rather flat, while the score veers between twee and plodding, cheapening things. She has, however, assembled an interesting cast and the central trio elevate the material, giving substance to the thinly drawn characters and rendering the gentle farce watchable enough. Stocker (who's best known in film for Hunting and Gathering, for which he won a Cesar, and who performs with the Comédie Française) excels as the kind but tortured Dimitri, whose battle with alcoholism is glimpsed in his visits to a support group and whose torment is written on his face, even if his psychology is underexplored in the narrative.

Miss and the Doctors never more than lightly amuses in a Sunday-afternoon-viewing sort of way but it's difficult to take against a film populated by such affable eccentrics. Nonetheless, by shaping its story around a romantic triangle it sits in the shadow of the pinnacle French filmmaking so, for maximum enjoyment, make a few small adjustments to your expectations and above all don't go in hoping for the next Une femme est une femme, or Jules et Jim.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Miss and the Doctors

Follow @EmmaSimmonds on Twitter

 

The brothers' attempts to woo the glamorous Judith seem at first as hopeless as they are hapless

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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