Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 29th January 2003
Box Office USA: $0.3M
Distributed by: United Artists Pictures/MGM
Production compaines: United Artists
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 25
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Roman Coppola
Producer: Gary Marcus
Screenwriter: Roman Coppola
Starring: Jeremy Davies as Paul, Angela Lindvall as Valentine, Élodie Bouchez as Marlène, Gérard Depardieu as Andrezej, Giancarlo Giannini as Enzo, Massimo Ghini as Fabrizio, Jason Schwartzman as Felix DeMarco, Billy Zane as Mr. E, John Phillip Law as Chairman, Silvio Muccino as Pippo, Dean Stockwell as Dr. Ballard, Natalia Vodianova as Brigit
CQ stars mostly people you've never heard of in a movie about making movies that were never actually made. Don't worry, it's really not that confusing. Boring, yes, but certainly not confusing. Jeremy Davies plays Paul, a struggling young director, who funds his personal film by working as a film editor on a cheesy, big budget science-fiction movie. But his director doesn't have an ending, and eventually Paul finds himself gifted with the job.
Coppola's directorial debut is an incredibly layered and stylistic film that, despite a fairly slow paced, almost humdrum approach to character development, still manages at least a decent attempt at meaningful cinema. Perhaps the real problem is simply that the main character Paul is a dud, emotionally cut off and lacking in charm. He's not a bad guy really, but it's hard to understand him, when young Paul seems to go out of his way to avoid interacting with his environment. He hides behind his camera, behind his movie, eventually driving away the woman he cares about. In the process, young Roman Coppola drives his audience right to sleep, despite his quick-cut approach to plot development.
It's an interesting gimmick. It really is. Coppola has really crammed three movies into one, and uses them to tell the story of the one person involved in all three. The first is Paul's personal film, where he videotapes his life to capture "real honesty." The second is the sci-fi film that Paul constructs, learning about his actors and himself in the process. The third is the film we are watching, the one that encases the other two. All three are melded together seamlessly, despite being totally unrelated. But Paul remains unaffected by any of it, or if he is, his personality is buried so deep it's more than a little difficult to bother getting interested.
Visually, Coppola's film is '60s Paris, right down to the last filmmaking detail. Even the music is smartly crafted to harken back to those hippie days. If nothing else, Coppola deserves credit for really giving us a sense of what Parisian filmmaking was like in that mixed up era of Vietnam and rebellion.
Still, CQ needs to come up with a better way to help audiences identify with its characters. Francis Ford's son hasn't failed, but he has a long way to go if he wants to catch up to daddy.
The CQ DVD has its most curious features on the flipside, namely the two 10-to-15-minute versions of Dragonfly, the film-within-a-film, and featuring commentary tracks and trailers. You can hear Roman "it's a love letter to cinema" Coppola's commentary on the actual movie, though God knows why you'd want to watch it twice. Other extras, like on-the-set featurettes, are just so-so.
My own private Eiffel Tower.