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"Chinese Puzzle": Attractive French People Have Better-Looking Problems 

Wednesday, May 21 2014

Cédric Klapisch's romantic comedy continues the transcontinental adventures of the beautiful French people chronicled in his previous films, Russian Dolls and L'auberge Espagnole, though Puzzle provides enough backstory for newbies to the series. When his ex-wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly) relocates to New York with their children, hunky series protagonist Xavier follows along, moving in first with his pal Isabelle (Cécile De France) and then into Isabelle's girlfriend Ju's (Sadrine Holt) old Chinatown apartment, all while struggling with complications including but not limited to writer's block, language barriers, American xenophobia, immigration officials suspicious of his marriage to a Chinese-American woman (Li Jun Li), and the appearance of his other ex, Martine (Audrey Tautou). No one plot element is more important than any other in Chinese Puzzle — which takes place over the course of a busy year — and it's less about the specifics of life's challenges than how the characters respond to them. It's also a celebration of modern New York from an outsider's perspective, making Chinatown look like a perfectly pleasant place to move into. The breezy Chinese Puzzle is no less concerned with what it means to be 40 than This Is 40, and the phrase "It's complicated" is used even more than in It's Complicated.

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Sherilyn Connelly


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