French musical Footnotes, the directorial debut feature of Paul Calori and Kostia Testut, draws from the works of Jacques Demy and Stanley Donen, something that would have been apparent even if you didn't know the directors name-check them as influences. It's a sometimes impressive effort, but the homage often suggests a photocopy of a photocopy; the skeleton of the inspirational source remains, but the details are obscured. What remains lacks a certain brilliance -- literally, given an aesthetic that employs a much blander palette than the Technicolor films of Demy and Donen.
To its credit, this is a musical that stays fairly grounded. Pauline Étienne stars as Julie, a down-on-her-luck young woman who finds work at Jacques Couture, a luxury shoe company, only to find out that management is planning on laying off its staff in favor of cheaper labor. Julie must decide whether to join her female co-workers and go on strike (perhaps losing her job), or keep her head down. Though it's not without charming moments, the story of women standing up to the big bad guys is diminished by unimpressive song-and-dance numbers that feel like Michel Legrand throwaways. This also means that some of the film's biggest plot points -- such as the betrayal of Julie's new love interest, the factory's truck driver, Samy (Olivier Chantreau) -- are resolved through shallow rhymes. La La Land got the conversation rolling about the return of the musical, but Footnotes will unfortunately remain, well, a footnote.
Paul Calori, Kostia TestutPauline Etienne, Olivier Chantreau, Julie Victor, François Morel, Loïc CorberyPaul Calori, Kostia TestutXavier DelmasMonument Releasing