Niels Schneider and Lou de Laâge in the romantic thriller,...

Niels Schneider and Lou de Laâge in the romantic thriller, "Coup de Chance", written/directed by Woody Allen. Credit: Taborlake/Thierry Valletoux

PLOT A wealthy woman’s affair with a struggling writer ignites her husband’s jealousy. (In French, with English subtitles)
CAST Lou de Laâge, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Schneider
RATED PG-13 (mild violence)
WHERE Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington; Malverne Cinema & Art Center. Available on video on demand April 12.
BOTTOM LINE Woody Allen’s 50th feature is a neat little fable about human foibles.

“Écrit et Réalizé par Woody Allen,” reads an opening credit in the filmmaker’s latest, “Coup de Chance.” Yes, it’s finally happened: At 88, Allen has released his first French-language film.

The project might seem to have the whiff of exile given Allen’s fall from grace in the wake of accusations that he molested his daughter, Dylan, which he has denied. No charges were brought against him, but Hollywood largely turned its back on the director it once idolized; his recent films have been handled by MPI Media Group, a smaller distributor. Then again, Allen has long romanticized Paris – it’s possibly his second-favorite city – and his comedy “Midnight in Paris” became an Oscar-winning hit. Returning to shoot another film, and adopting the language, seems in some ways a natural step.

And how different are Parisians from New Yorkers, anyway? Translation aside, Allen (who speaks only English) probably didn’t need to tailor his screenplay much. His heroine is Fanny (a knockout Lou de Laâge), the bored trophy wife of Jean (Melvil Poupaud), a wealthy financier. Fanny’s chance meeting with Alain (Niels Schneider), a former schoolmate who’s now writing a novel, reignites her dormant bohemian spirit. An affair begins. What Fanny doesn’t know is that Jean has found out – and he has a history of making problematic people disappear.

This is the kind of simple, Hitchcockian premise that Allen whips up with ease (see “Match Point” and “Irrational Man”). Fifty films into his career – he still makes about one per year -- Allen has his art down to a science. He’s a master of economy: Little lines convey larger backstories (“Once a rebel, always a rebel,” Jean observes of his wife) just as brief moments mark bigger emotional shifts. The characters ruminate on chance and coincidence, providing a bit of thematic heft without going full-bore existential. (The title translates as “Stroke of Luck.”) Allen wisely sticks with his go-to cinematographer, the legendary Vittorio Storaro, but switches out his usual Dixieland soundtrack for a lively modern jazz score that leans on Herbie Hancock and Nat Adderley. It all makes for a beautifully crafted, if lightweight, treat.

At one point, Fanny’s mother, Camille (Valérie Lemercier), mentions that she’s reading Georges Simenon – a name Allen surely didn’t pick at random. A staggeringly prolific mystery writer, Simenon published more than 400 books in his lifetime, often at the rate of three or four a year. Among them were hits, misses, masterpieces and throwaways, but the sum total is a towering literary legacy. Maybe Allen is aiming for something similar. Or maybe, like the tireless Simenon, he’s simply doing what he does best.

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