Kings and Queen

There's something about the goofy sprawl of French writer-director Arnaud Desplechin—his obscure uses of “Moon River” and Greek mythology, his unlikely casting of a black woman as a famous psychotherapist—that irks me even when he's being brilliant. But this powerhouse 2004 movie lingers, and maybe, like his characters, Desplechin needs his eccentricities. Costarring two of his favorite actor-creatures, Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Amalric, as a single mother and her deranged ex-husband, this melodrama follows their narratives separately (she learns her father is dying; he gets committed to a sanitarium) before allowing them to commingle. It adds up to more than the sum of its parts, but you may not realize it for a day or so. With Catherine Deneuve. In French with subtitles. 150 min.

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