The beloved North Park Theatre reopens this week with “Girl on a Bicycle,” a lighthearted soufflé of a romantic farce that’s puffy, sweet and sticks to a familiar recipe.
The charming English-language film boasts a multinational cast, and offers a winning performance from German actress Nora Tschirner, lovely cinematography and an appropriately schmaltzy soundtrack that hits the right notes. That helps to overcome the clichés, hackneyed jokes and preposterous plot twists writer-director Jeremy Levin piles on for hit-you-over-the-head laughs.
Paolo (Vincenzo Amato) is an Italian tour bus driver in Paris, fond of pointing out at every opportunity how preferable Italian culture is. Tschirner’s character, Greta, is a beautiful German stewardess who lives with Paolo and has her wish to get engaged come true. The proposal comes after Greta reassures Paolo they will still be able to eat pizza if they have kids, thanks to the magic of takeout.
Everything seems perfect – until the next day when Cecile (Louise Monot), a beautiful French model, appears on the side of Paolo’s bus on her bike. She has just lost a job in a commercial for being unable to keep the grip on a bar of soap filmed for a nude bathtub scene. So begins Paolo’s obsession, leading to a bus accident that sends Cecile home with a broken arm and leg – and Paolo, inexplicably, becoming her caregiver and “Papa” to her two Australian children.
Paolo, in what is de rigueur for such films about two girls and a guy, lies to Greta about what he’s up to, sending the downcast fiancée to suspect he has gone down that Italian path of keeping a mistress on the side. Things start to heat up after Greta decides to put on her detective cap and see just what her deceiving fiance is really up to, with Paolo’s British friend Derek (Paddy Considine) adding further to the mix.
If one suspends judgment on some of the film’s farfetched scenes, and overlooks a few well-worn jokes, the sweet-hearted “Girl on a Bicycle” can make for an enjoyable trip to the movies. That should be even more so with the film projecting onto the North Park Theatre’s giant screen, and viewers getting their first look inside the moviehouse’s long-awaited renovation.
girl on a bicycle
2½ stars (Out of four)
Starring: Nora Tschirner, Vincenzo Amato, Louise Monot, Paddy Considine
Director: Jeremy Levin
Running time: 100 minutes
Rating: R for some nudity, sexuality and profanity.
The Lowdown: A just-engaged tour bus driver becomes infatuated with a woman bicyclist in this lighthearted romantic comedy.