This adaptation of Françoise Dorner’s novel is a melancholic cross between Venus and Goodbye, Mr Chips
German director Sandra Nettelbeck‘s misty-eyed adaptation of Françoise Dorner’s novel La Douceur Assassine is as syrupy sweet as the title suggests a melancholic cross between Venus and Goodbye, Mr Chips, which could have been more enticingly entitled Venus and Chips. In the novel, the bereaved elderly gentleman seeking solace after his wife’s death is French. Here he is an American in Paris, although Michael Caine’s Anglo-strangled accent is best described as peripatetic. A chance encounter with Clémence Poésy’s perky dance teacher sets May-September alarm-bells ringing, but the narrative dosey-does around any age-inappropriate unpleasantness by introducing Mr Morgan Jr (Justin Kirk) as a surrogate squire. Smiling through the tears is the default expression for everyone except a snarky Gillian Anderson, who briefly threatens to shake things up before departing prematurely a shame. Caine musters some sympathy, not least for delivering the line "You are the crack in my world" with a straight face, which cannot have been easy.