Pigalle

on September 12, 1994 by Sean O'Neill
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   Pigalle is Paris' red-light district (painted memorably by Toulouse-Lautrec and rhapsodized by Jean Genet), and a palpable mise-en-scene is this film's strongest facet. But debut writer/director Karim Dridi's greater aim is clearly American in nature. With a Lynchian cast of characters (transvestites, peepshow dancers and a paraplegic dwarf) plus a Scorsese-like feeling of impending doom among the lowlifes, Dridi's work attempts to concoct a cross between "Twin Peaks" and "Mean Streets."
   Alas, it's not to be. In recounting the doomed romance between a private dancer, Vera (Vera Briole), and male hustler Fifi (Francis Renaud), Dridi substitutes platitudes for Lynch's deadpan wit, and schoolboy nihilism for Scorsese's supercharged morality. The result is quite unappealing. Dridi has an eye, all right, but his mind is in the gutter, and his movie has no heart.    Starring Vera Briole and Francis Ren-aud. Directed and written by Karim Dridi. Produced by Romain Bremond and Patric Haddad. A Seventh Art release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 92 min.
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