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Merci Docteur Ray Review

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Opera diva Dianne Wiest tries to prevent her gay son from discovering his father's identity.

★★★★

Ismail Merchant already has some indelible blotches on his solo CV, most notably his directorial efforts with In Custody (1993) and The Proprietor (1996). But this exec-produced outing excels in its pretentious elitism and self-hugging luvviness.

Debuting writer-director Andrew Litvack indulges in all manner of social and cultural snobbery, as opera diva Dianne Wiest tries to prevent her closet gay son, Stanislas Merhar, from discovering his deceased father's true identity.

Litvack encourages his cast to perform at the highest pitch, although Jane Birkin retains some dignity as the voiceover artist who offers Merhar sanctuary. She's also key to a running gag about Vanessa Redgrave that just about pays off until it's taken too far during a smug cameo.

Irritating from first to last.