The Other Side of Music-Hall: On Tour

The Other Side of Music-Hall: On Tour

Static Mass Rating: 2/5
Artificial Eye 

Release date: April 25th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 111 minutes

Original language: English and French with subtitles

Director: Mathieu Amalric

Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Miranda Colclasure, Suzanne Ramsey, Linda Marraccini, Julie Atlas Muz, Angela de Lorenzo

Mathieu Amalric directs and stars in this art house road movie, partly inspired by the 1913 book The Other Side of Music-Hall by French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, but with a contemporary setting.

Amalric plays Joachim, a former Parisian television producer who left everything he had in France to start a new life in America, but who now returns with a team of real-life Neo-Burlesque performers. He’s promised them a tour of France together with a grand opening performance in Paris, but things don’t go quite according to plan.

On Tour

As Joachim catches up with people from his past and takes time out to reconnect with two young sons, it becomes clear to the performers that this isn’t a tour, but in fact an excuse for him to come back home. They travel from port to port, stay in hotels and practice their routines in hopes of the Paris show taking place.

On Tour is first and foremost an art house film. It isn’t really about anything in particular and takes the idea of plot and script very lightly. The focus drifts from one to character to the next but isn’t able to live up to the promise of a grand show, either for us an audience or for the performers in the film.

On Tour

I would have loved to have seen some dazzling performances and musical numbers to contrast with the dreary scenes of hotels, supermarkets, petrol stations and toll booths, but sadly this wasn’t forthcoming.

What we see doesn’t begin to capture the magic of live performance or scratch the surface of Neo-Burlesque as an art form. I think Amalric would have done better to put the focus on one of the performers as a central character, staying close to Colette’s story rather than himself.

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