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As Paul, a young American working the filmmaking fringes in Paris in 1969, Jeremy Davies is desperate to make revolutionary cinema. He sets up a camera in the apartment he shares with his French girlfriend, Marlene (Elodie Bouchez), and records the details of his life, even on the toilet. “What if it’s boring?” asks Marlene. “Did you ever think it might not be interesting for others to watch?”

Smart cookie, that Marlene. Writer-director Roman Coppola is trying to capture a time he’s too young to remember, when the French New Wave reinvigorated film art. Paul is working as an editor on Dragonfly, a Barbarella-style sci-fi epic starring Valentine, played by American model Angela Lindvall. His chance comes when the producer (Giancarlo Giannini) fires the director (Gerard Depardieu) and lets Paul take over. Will Paul sell out? Sleep with his star? Suffer angst? Bet you can guess. Coppola has made a film of intoxicating atmosphere and little else. CQ, which is Morse code for “seek you,” can’t find the animating spirit that would make Coppola’s idea fly.

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