On Tour (Tournee)
Star-writer-director Mathieu Amalric combines road movie with authentic portrait of provincial show business
‘France is going to love you,’ declares television producer turned impresario Joachim (Mathieu Amalric) to his American troupe of ‘new burlesque’ dancers, whom he is leading on a tour of French coastal towns. Voluptuous characters such as Mimi Le Meaux, Dirty Martini and Kitten on the Keys find that local audiences warmly receive their colourful striptease acts, which they define as ‘women doing shows for women’. Joachim promises his performers a Paris show, but when he heads for the capital and tries to call in some favours, he discovers his past misdemeanours haven’t been forgotten.
Freely switching between English and French dialogue, star-writer-director Mathieu Amalric’s loosely structured film operates on several levels: it’s a road movie of sorts, it’s an authentic portrait of provincial show business, and it’s an enjoyably meandering character study of its protagonist, the seedy-looking, chain-smoking Joachim. We only get to see excerpts of the burlesque routines, often from a behind-the-stage perspective or from the sidelines, and these sequences are photographed in wide-shots rather than close-ups. Nor, with the exception of Mimi (Miranda Colclasure), do we learn much about these tattooed, peroxide performers, except the contrast between their public personas and the ordinariness of their everyday interactions. It’s Amalric’s performance which keeps this particular cinematic show on the road, even when Joachim is clearly out of his depth. There’s an appealing unpredictability to the actor, best illustrated in the wonderful scene where he and a petrol station cashier (Aurelia Petit) enjoy a playful flirtation.