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A Polysexual Cinderella

Like an Angel: Hoping to earn her big break in opera, Ana (Ariadna Gil) practices in "Celestial Clockwork."

Fina Torres' lightweight comedy teases the status quo

By Richard von Busack

AMIABLE, PRETTY AND MULTI-CULTI (mostly culty), Celestial Clockwork is the kind of movie, as a friend said about Clueless, that cable TV was invented for. Writer/director Fina Torres' film promises metaphysical grandeur and delivers a featherweight Cinderella comedy. Ariadna Gil (of the Spanish film Belle Epoque) plays Ana, a wide-eyed Venezuelan girl who flees a marriage right at the altar and bails out for Paris, where she moves in with an old friend, thus gaining the immediate loathing of the girl's housemate, Celeste (Arielle Dombasle), a scheming, climbing videomaker. Celeste is such a cartoonishly evil woman that even her image is toasted--infuriated by this South American hick who's moved in with her, Celeste's eyes shoot computerized flames.

The villain is angling for work in a new production of Rossini's Cinderella. Ana, who worships Maria Callas, and who has a fine singing voice, is obviously the right choice for the role, but Celeste's plotting interferes with Ana's aspirations. Ana moves out and gets a place with a ditzy psychiatrist, Alcanie (Evelyne Didi), who's so addled she doesn't even realize she's falling in love with her new Latina housemate. A friendly nightclub shaman named Toutou (Hidegar Garcia Madriz) sets Alcanie straight (well, to be literal, he sets her gay), and a comic gay waiter (Frédéric Longbois) rescues Ana from the forces of the immigration department, in time for her ultimate triumph on stage.

Although this fluffy comedy teases the status quo with its polysexuality and its paganism, the kittenishness begins to pall on the viewer after the first half hour. The candied surfaces and perkiness of the ensemble wear you out, and Celeste doesn't have enough nastiness to add spice to this spun sugar. The naughtiness of Celestial Clockwork isn't barbed, and the ultimate effect is of watching an expanded music video.

Celestial Clockwork (Unrated; 85 min.), directed and written by Fina Torres, photographed by Ricardo Aronovich and starring Ariadna Gil and Arielle Dombasle.

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From the August 1-7, 1996 issue of Metro

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