CQ (2001) Movie Review

The main character in Roman Coppola (yes, there is a very good reason that last name sounds familiar to you) is a young American in Paris, circa 1969, who is documenting every aspect of his life for a film. At one point in the movie, the American’s French girlfriend asks him, What if people find his life to be not very interesting; what then? This comment, oddly enough, describes “CQ” to a ‘T,’ because the movie is so amazingly…uninteresting.

Writer/director Coppola is the son of Francis Ford Coppola, the filmmaking icon responsible for giving “The Godfather” series to the world (and nothing of merit in the last 20 years since, unfortunately). “CQ” is the younger Coppola’s debut film, and besides taking place in 1969 and set in Paris, France, there’s absolutely nothing remarkable about it.

The film stars Jeremy Davies as Paul, the American in question who gets a chance to direct a cheapo sci-fi movie when the producer throws the original director off the project after an argument about the movie-within-the-movie’s lackluster ending. Promoted to director, Paul immediately falls in love with the film’s star, Valentine (Angela Lindvall), but he has other problems to contend with, like trying to find out who he is and all that other pretentious nonsense all film school graduates think is most important.

What it all boils down to is that Roman Coppola has too much money, too much time, and nothing to say. “CQ” is most enjoyable (which is not often) when it flees the movie’s real world for the sci-fi movie-within-the-movie. The movie in question is set in 2001, and the sets and notion of 2001 being totally high-tech are played for laughs. There were a couple of good chuckles to be had for the first couple of movie-within-a-movie sequences, but even that aspect of the film soon wore out its welcome.

Besides working as second unit director on his father’s films (it’s called nepotism, folks, and no one does it better than Hollywood), Coppola comes into “CQ” with a great opportunity to make a good film at his own terms. Instead, he fails so badly that one wonders why he doesn’t just wait until he can come up with a good screenplay to base a film on. What was the rush? “CQ” comes across as a film made just because it could be made, and for no other reason.

There are a number of gross examples of “too much money, not enough movie” in “CQ.” For one, why choose 1969 Paris in the first place? A quick scan of IMDB.com reveals that Coppola was born in 1965, so even if he lived through the era, he obviously didn’t live through the era. So why spend unnecessary funds on old cars, period set designs and wardrobe, when that money could be spent elsewhere? Only a filmmaker suffering from gross over self-indulgence can throw money away unnecessarily instead of milking every penny for very specific (and crucial) filmmaking choices. “CQ” also offers no reason for the film to take place in 1969, or even in Paris for that matter. Paul’s story could just as well take place in 2002 Los Angeles and nothing would have changed.

Speaking of Paul’s life, it is boring. It is dull and uninteresting and — let me say it again in case it wasn’t clear before — boring. Paul’s French girlfriend had it right. Your life is dull, Paul. No one cares about it but you.

Roman Coppola (director) / Roman Coppola (screenplay)
CAST: Jeremy Davies …. Paul
Angela Lindvall …. Dragonfly/Valentine
Élodie Bouchez …. Marlene

Buy CQ on DVD