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'An Eye for Beauty' is a shallow affair

'An Eye for Beauty' is a shallow affair
Melanie Thierry and Eric Bruneau play a loving couple in rural Quebec. Then the husband strays. (Seville International)

An ambitious young architect discovers that life seldom follows a set of blueprints in Denys Arcand's "An Eye for Beauty," an insistently distancing if aesthetically pleasing Canadian production.

A chance reencounter while accepting an award in Paris takes confident Luc (Éric Bruneau) back to a time in his life when he seemed to have everything going for him, including a great home in idyllic rural Quebec that he shares with his beautiful, affectionate wife (Mélanie Thierry).

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But the enviable life he has built begins to show fissures in the foundation around the same time he (graphically) succumbs to the rather forceful charms of a married woman (Melanie Merkosky) he meets during a business trip to Toronto.

While Arcand has forged a deserved reputation as a gifted satirist, adroitly navigating the sexual-political landscape in acclaimed films such as 1986's "The Decline of the American Empire" and 2003's Oscar-winning "The Barbarian Invasions," the rewards in this two-year-old production are far fewer, with bland characters that feel schematically drawn rather than possessing a beating pulse.

It certainly looks fetching thanks to the refined elegance of the production design and that lushly scenic cinematography, which even manages to make a game of golf appear sultry and inviting.

When it comes to any emotional resonance, however, "An Eye for Beauty" is all façade.

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'An Eye for Beauty'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica.

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