Un Profil Pour Deux aka Mr. Stein Goes Online, written and directed by Stephane Robelin
Pierre Richard was a comedy star that has brought so much laughter and amusement in great films like La Chevre and Les Comperes, in which he performed with the actor who became the Zeus of French cinema- Gerard Depardieu- only to fall into Hades, with his decision to become a citizen of…Russia, of all places.
In Mr. Stein Goes Online, the amusing, charming and excellent Pierre Richard has the leading role of a seventy five year old man, Pierre Stein, a widower who has not been out of the house much in the past couple of years, in part because of the grief, but also for reasons connected with his penny pinching manner.
On the matter of Coping With Adversity and Trauma, people in the position of the main character are among the hardest hit psychologically, for studies show that widowers, those who have suffered a loss, the unemployed and especially those who have to live in conflict zones are among the human beings who experience the most severe damage, albeit along with the patients suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, we have lucky individuals who come from adversity with Post Traumatic Growth.
Sylvie is the daughter of the retiree and she would like her parent to recover, go outside the apartment, meet new people and end the period of grief, for which she offers the help of Alex, a young man who tries to write and sell a script- or a few- and id dating and living with Juliette, Mr. Stein’s granddaughter’s.
Pierre Stein does not know about this and he talks with Juliette’s ex-boyfriend, who is living in China now.
Sylvie has re-married and both parents are unhappy with the arrangement in which Alex lives at their house, has no income and the one “keeping” him is Juliette, so they try hard to encourage him to find a job and meanwhile, he has to fix the bathroom sink or other, repeating this request to nausea.
Alex has to help Mr. Stein to…Go Online, which proves to be a difficult task since the older gentleman is coming from the bronze age of technology and is as unaware as possible- they say that he has some notion regarding the “minitel” which was something like a primitive precursor, network before the age of the internet.
There are some funny moments connected with this total ignorance, for the connection, the laptop or something does not work, more likely the out of this world hero does something wrong, and Mr. Stein calls his teacher, who tells him:
- “Open the window”
And the old man stands up from the computer table and…opens the window of the flat, noting on the screen and later on, when a photo is required by the dating site where he wants to meet someone, he tries to physically push a picture on paper inside the “ordinateur”, only to decide to use the image of Alex and try to connect with strangers in this “Brave New World of the worldwide web.
A woman from Brussels named Flora is very interested in the intelligent, romantic, different, original, sensitive, open, suffering, interesting man who talks about his loss, but not his age, when he arranges for a meeting in a bar in the capital of Belgium.
Speculating to some extent the need for money and occupation, Pierre Stein talks to his much younger teacher of the online sphere and mentions a trip out of town, to meet with his new acquaintance and he wants the new friend to get to the bar in his place and make the initial rapprochement.
It reminds one of Cyrano de Bergerac- the excellent version with Gerard Depardieu is closer to the original and probably better, although Roxanne, with Steve Martin in the role of a contemporary Cyrano is funny and witty as well- with Pierre in the role of the more experienced, savvy, refined personage and the younger character the dashing, attractive initial romantic interest.
Alex is more than reluctant, given the false pretenses, the fact that he is involved with the granddaughter- grandfather is still unaware-but given the pressure, the fact that his student offers some financial incentive and it looks like a game that will end soon, so he accepts.
Flora and Alex like each other, in spite of some minor crisis, for he is not aware of all the things he is supposed to have mentioned in their previous, cyber sphere dialogue, such as the death of his loved one in an accident, of which he knows nothing and his expertise in…Chinese, which is very nearly put to the test, as his interlocutor has brought a present …a book in Chinese
The two young people make love- not in the car, as Alex had threatened, after being exposed to all of the above, expertise on China and embarrassing stories to complete and face-and Flora is infatuated, albeit in the first instance, knowing he already has a partner, Alex thinks this is the ned, changes his mind when Juliette acts very badly and wants to see his new love again.
Pierre Stein has other plans, corresponding with Flora and inviting her to his grandfather’s flat, saying that the old man is so nice; this happens and while the unaware woman is travelling on the train to meet Alex, he is bound for the opposite direction.A sort of humorous climax ensues when Pierre, Alex and Flora receive the visit of the anxious daughter and granddaughter, very worried about the affair that the old man has with a woman young enough to have no normal interest in such an ancient lover, with various strange confusions and communication breakdowns, noises that seem to suggest intercourse between Pierre and his seductress, dialogue between relatives and guests who think and understand all from completely different angles