As she does every morning, Lucie (Florence Muller, Public Fears in Private Places) joins her colleagues at the office with a smile. It s a working day just like any other. Then suddenly, all activity in the office stops and attention turns toward a window of the building across the way and a banner reading: Man Alone. Is it a hoax? A cry for help? Everyone has their own interpretation, and will try to discover what lies behind this mysterious message. With nearly 90 speaking parts and an all-star cast including the iconic Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace) and Chiara Mastroianni (Persepolis), PARK BENCHES is a treat for anyone who delights in unraveling the mysteries of everyday life.  


“Park Benches” is essentially a comedy in three acts. It begins in an unremarkable office building where language becomes the tool by which we see beyond the dull exterior and into the internal life of the characters (something the office workers themselves are trying to do when they go in search of the Man Alone). This is demonstrated most effectively in a hilarious speech by the visiting CEO, whose persistent Freudian slips betray his inner turmoil of sexual frustration, betrayal and self-loathing, lurking beneath the surface of his dull financial commentary about profits and losses.

The most engaging scene was the one in the park with an interesting alternation of the camera between different people. The viewer felt part of the scene as a common bystander sat on a bench, observing each different group, each different scene. The director should have developed this part as the film title lead to believe instead of letting the scene at the hardware store drag on.

The DVD comes with deleted scenes, mock ads, featurettes and a ton of extra scenes involving extensive ad-libbing by the cast. There’s a ton of material from where the director toured Europe with the film and screened it for the crowd at Cannes. The props and related costumes were on display in Versailles, which helps to show off how wide of a release this film got in America. There’s also a trailer and a pre-recorded introduction from the trailer. The A/V Quality is sharp enough for a foreign film, but it lacks any substantial punch-up on the Dolby 5.1 track. I’d recommend a purchase.



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