No, Not Even Nudity Can Save the Lethargic Girl on a Bicycle


Girl on a Bicycle is like Micki + Maude minus the outrage, complexity, or crack timing. In that 1984 Blake Edwards farce, a frazzled Dudley Moore impregnates both his chilly wife and earthy mistress.

The Paris-set Bicycle‘s convoluted plot promises a similar degree of chaos, not least because of language barriers among the characters. Mopey Italian tour bus driver Paolo (Vincenzo Amato) proposes to pert, no-nonsense German flight attendant Greta (Nora Tschirner), then becomes smitten with Cécile (Louise Monot), a ravishing bicyclist and model who’s raising two kids long-abandoned by their Australian baby daddy.

After Paolo accidentally runs Cécile over, he becomes her caretaker, pretends to be her children’s estranged father, and employs his foul-mouthed British pal Derek (Paddy Considine) to throw the increasingly suspicious Greta off his trail.

Writer-director Jeremy Leven (who last directed Don Juan DeMarco 20 years ago, though he’s since adapted a few tearjerkers, like Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook) is too reticent to make Paolo a cad, so, unlike in Micki + Maude, there are no dalliances, and this meek dilly-dallier only lies to one of the women.

Leven’s skirting over the potential sexual tension between Paolo and Cécile is galling; instead, he zeroes in on Paolo’s sappy budding relationship with Cécile’s button-cute offspring. And it’s inconceivable that the lame ploys Derek and Paolo come up with, such as Derek’s faking an illness, would fool the wise Greta. Leven throws in a good deal of bedroom romps and nudity, most enjoyably during the film’s best scene, Cécile’s botched commercial shoot for a slippery soap product.

But not even these lustrous displays of skin overcome the film’s lethargy — something you’d never encounter in even the worst of Edwards’s oeuvre.