The distributor is probably hoping that Pascale Bailly’s picture will turn into a phenomenon like “My Big Fat Jewish Romance.” “Fat” chance. “God Is Great, I’m Not” are words that could easily be spoken by the movie itself. Despite the presence of the lovable Audrey Tautou (“Amelie”) in one of the lead roles, it’s an incredibly irritating comedy about thoroughly vacuous people. When it closes with a “to be continued” notice, the words come as a threat.
Tautou stars as Michelle, a empty-headed model whose most notable trait is a proclivity for skipping from religion to religion in a seemingly endless search for some sort of spiritual fulfillment. When she’s introduced she’s in a funk, having just broken up with her boyfriend; but before long she’s hooked up with Francois (Edouard Baer), a bearded veterinarian who also happens to be a non-observant Jew. After a single night with him, however, she attempts suicide. He nevertheless reconnects with her shortly afterward, and soon they’re seriously involved. The problem is that she quickly takes a turn to Judaism and demands that Francois “convert” too; the process causes all sorts of supposedly comic and touching difficulties. Michelle also has problems with her mother (Catherine Jacob), with whom she quarrels at a moment’s notice, and she’s got a best friend, Valerie (Julie Depardieu), an analyst who’s setting up as private practice (and is on the lookout for a partner, too).
This sort of romantic-trifle-with-serious-undertones can come off, but in the present instance it falls flat. For one thing, the characters are all extremely annoying. Michelle is such an empty-headed twit that even Tautou’s considerable charms don’t redeem her, and though it’s understandable that Baer’s flustered Francois might be briefly smitten with her, it’s never remotely credible that he’d stay interested for long. The other characters are ciphers, routinely played. What really dooms the enterprise, though, is Bailly’s incessantly fussy style. The picture is filled with pointlessly angled shots, swooning camerawork, and jagged editing (complete with lots of blackouts and jump cuts); it also boasts a clumsy linking device–entries from Michelle’s diary–that quickly grows tiresome. With its frenetic pacing, hand-held visuals and elliptical approach, “God Is Great” manages to embody the worst excesses of nouvelle vague without any of its sense of fun or energy.
The best thing about “God Is Great, I’m Not” are a few scenes from Ernst Lubitsch’s “To Be Or Not to Be” (1942) plunked into it at one point. Rent that instead of enduring this eyesore.