Three’s Company may be long gone, but its legacy of incorrectly interpreted conversations and mistaken identities and motivations lives on in dreary rom-coms like Hôtel Normandy. Charles Nemes’s film is a decidedly sitcom-y affair in which widowed French banker Alice (Héléna Noguerra) is sent on a resort holiday by her friends, who have blackmailed an in-debt client to have a fling with her. Complications ensue when that contracted Romeo farms out his duties to his buffoonish brother, Yvan (Ary Abittan), and Alice winds up instead falling head over heels for wealthy suitor Jacques (Eric Elmosnino)—all while accepting from him, and then giving away, a valuable painting that Jacques’s ex-wife, Hélène (Annelise Hesme), suspects Alice always wanted to steal. That knotty scenario leads to lots of hokey humor in which people wrongly believe they know what others are up to—at one point, Alice is erroneously assumed to be both a cat burglar and a whore (the latter of which she finds flattering)—and consequently act in the most impulsively stupid ways imaginable. There isn’t a moment in Hôtel Normandy that isn’t painfully contrived, yet, worse still, its mix-ups boast all the inspiration and excitement of a weekend getaway at the local mall.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 25, 2013