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CQ | review | dvd | Lollipop
by Chad Van Wagner
CQ is what's often called a noble failure. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola's son Roman, it's the tale of a milquetoast film editor living in 1969 Paris (Jeremy Davies as Paul) who's working on the fictional film Dragonfly. Dragonfly is a knowing pastiche of scenes lifted outright from such films as Barbarella, Modesty Blaize, and Danger: Diabolik, among others, and it's telling of CQ as a whole that the audience tends to be more interested in seeing the fictional film than the real one.
Of course, the audience CAN watch the "real" film if they so choose, since the "homages" from other films are little more than outright copies. What is different about CQ is, unfortunately, very uninteresting. Paul is a frustrated artist, filming himself Warhol documentary style, in hopes of making a film that is "totally honest." Paul is a simp. He's undoubtedly supposed to be, but as a central character, he's simply not interesting enough to carry even the film's scant 80 minute running time. Coppola doesn't help, filling Paul's scenes with some of the most hamfisted, film-student touches imaginable (one scene has our hero talking about the possibility of a mysterious long lost twin, while a conveniently-placed mirror gives us two images of Paul's face. Get it?)
Now, it's possible that the overwhelmingly amateurish touches are added to underscore Paul's own naïve geekiness, but that's not a strong enough conceit to get us, the audience, through most of this thing. The film's one true bright spot comes from Jason "Rushmore" Schwartzman, who plays a slimy up-and-coming young director. Schwartzman isn't in it much.
Despite the above, it's difficult to seriously dislike CQ (which, in case you missed it, is pronounced "Seek You." GET IT??!! It's okay if you don't, because it's explicitly spelled out for you later.) It's good-natured and likeable, and it has something to say about how the media image of someone can become more of a comfort than the person themselves, but it's too sketchy, too knowing, although I am interested to see what Coppola Jr. comes up with next. Go rent 8 1/2 again.