Impressively directed and superbly written, this is an infectiously enjoyable, warm-hearted backstage drama with terrific performances from Mathieu Amalric and Miranda Colclasure (aka Mimi Le Meaux).
What's it all about?
Directed by actor-turned-director Mathieu Amalric, On Tour (Tournée, original title fans) is set in present day France and centres on Joachim Zand (Amalric), a former TV producer who returns from America with a troupe of New Burlesque artistes including Mimi Le Meaux (Miranda Colclasure), Kitten on the Keys (Suzanne Ramsey), Dirty Martini (Linda Marracini) and Julie Atlas Muz (Julie Ann Muz). Having lured the girls to France with the promise of a show in Paris, Joachim tours the troupe round a series of French coastal towns while desperately struggling to make good on his word.
At the same time, there's simmering, unexplained tension between Joachim and Mimi, which is only exacerbated by the arrival of his two young sons (Simon Roth and Joseph Roth).
Miranda Colclasure is terrific as Mimi Le Meaux (her real stage name; each member of the troupe is a real-life burlesque artiste), delivering a powerfully charismatic performance that showcases her confident, sexy stage persona (such as when she seduces a boring IT consultant and drags him into a hotel toilet), but also reveals a heartbreaking vulnerability underneath. Amalric (sporting an amusing pencil moustache, apparently in tribute to a friend) is equally good and there's strong support from each member of the troupe, whose colourful personalities generate an appealing ensemble chemistry.
Amalric's direction is extremely impressive throughout, displaying a Robert Altman-esque naturalism that gives the film a documentary feel. Similarly, the intelligent, sharply observed script never feels the need to over-explain anything and instead allows the audience to fill in the gaps for themselves, particularly in regard to why Zand was in America in the first place or the reasons behind the tension between him and Mimi.
The film is beautifully shot, with cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne making strong use of the various locations (the tour was essentially real, with the cast filming in the hotels they slept in).
There are also some wonderful scenes, most notably a flirtatious encounter between Zand and a gas station attendant (Aurelia Petit) or a running joke involving Julie's props for her new routine.
This is an enjoyable, well made and superbly acted drama that marks Amalric out as a director to watch. Highly recommended.