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A film that employs the hoary plotting device of letters read in voice-over, that requires two identical flashbacks to make the same point, that indulges in Isabelle Huppert's wooden five-minute rendition of a cheese-ball Phillippe Sarde ditty in order to prolong its miserable life does not mark the debut of a major narrative talent. Caroline Huppert's first feature, Sincerely Charlotte, offers vapid melodrama, an interminable murder mystery, and a glimpse or two of sister Isabelle's much photographed breasts, but that's about all. Charlotte (Huppert), a hoydenish femme fatale fleeing the corpse of her boyfriend, seeks shelter from the cops with former flame Mathieu (Niels Arestrup), and the two make tracks for the Spanish border. The film nearly slips into engaging anarchy at times, as when now portly and middle-class Mathieu hides Charlotte in his studio under his gelid fiancee's nose, or when Charlotte takes Mathieu on a Breathless-style spree involving stolen cars, close calls, and dodging police. But it all dissolves into smarmy nuzzling by a picturesque lake and a relentlessly telegraphed twist ending in yet another misconceived French attempt to grind out a Hollywood product (1986).

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