| Did a Count ever leave you an incredibly
beautiful castle in the middle of nowhere France? And then did
you travel by train with your adopted antithetical brother to
visit your newly acquired estate? No? Really? Me neither.
In The Chateau, Graham (Rudd) and Allen “a.k.a.
Rex” Granville (Malco) are two mismatched brothers
who journey to southern France to place a visible claim on
an aging provincial castle that they have unexpectedly inherited
from their deceased uncle, a Count. The digitally filmed movie
is directed by Jesse Peretz, who collaborated on the
“Jimmy the Cabdriver” commercials for MTV, and is notably
a former member of the Evan Dando-helmed music group
The Lemonheads. In the film, which is also written
by Peretz, the characters of Rex and Graham share no physical
resemblance, which causes tons of confusion upon their arrival
at the castle. Graham is white and Rex is black, and they
both have difficulty elucidating the concept of adoption in
their broken French. Language, cultural, and familial barriers
aside, on the whole The Chateau brings out a few instances
of lighthearted fun, but is definitely a house that you want
to rent, not inherit as a long-term asset.
Plotwise, the servants who remain at the castle are less
than welcoming, almost vacantly dismissive of the Americans’
presence. Adding another ouch to the blow, the supercilious
throws insult after non-understood insult their way. The brothers,
however, barely notice as they become sidetracked by the young
French maid Isabelle (Testud) who innocently captures
their eyes, but surreptitiously hides pertinent information
concerning the house. The brothers, given hints by the employees
that the crumbling castle is a ruin waiting to happen, decide,
via various arguments full of differing opinions, to sell
the estate and profit from their situation.
In addition to the film’s initial credibility factor, the
mid-section failed to hold my interest. Perhaps it was the
countless shenanigans pulled by servant Pierre (Nalton)
that came across as situationally unnecessary, or the constant
sideways glances perpetrated by the butler Jean (Flamand).
Either way, I began to feel that their characters were a little
too cheeky. They don’t want the rude Americans to take the
house away from them. We get it. Thankfully, the advent of
prospective buyer, Sonny (played by Donal Logue a.k.a.
Jimmy the Cabdriver, and currently the father on TV’s “Grounded
for Life”) piqued my attention in the latter third of the
film, and the rest of the movie was consequently more interesting.
On an up note, Graham’s character is reminiscent of the adorably
precocious four-year-old brother I never had the pleasure
of mentoring. Much of this is due to Rudd’s ability to bring
out subtle, childish mannerisms to convey Graham’s man-boy
status. More than that, his use of accented English in pursuit
of finding a quasi-similar French word is endearing and veers
successfully away from triteness. He’s a therapy driven, flip-flop
wearing, vegan optimist, whereas Rex contrastingly dominates
as the cynical, business-driven, $300-shoe-wearing, penis
product entrepreneur/brother. As Rex, Malco delivers a crafty
performance, and the chemistry between the non-biologically
related brothers eventually convinced me that the two could
have fallen from the same tree.
Regardless of whether you decide to finance a mortgage on
The Chateau or just hike on out of the microcosmic
culture-clashing film after two hours, I still find myself
in the position of harbinger for those yet to see the film.
But all I can say is caveat emptor. Or maybe that should
be, Vive la France! Whatever, personally, some parts
just seemed a little too Clue for me.
—Sandra M. Ogle