Avenue Montaigne centers on a street in Paris where a bistro, theater, concert hall and auction house nestle up against each other. The café caters to all kinds of people, both high and low brow, and provides the setting for much of the action.

Jessica, a country girl, moves to the city and gets a job at the restaurant, even though the manager takes pains to tell her they have never hired a woman. Serving as a connector between the interlocking stories of romantic, familial and artistic love swirling around her, Jessica attempts to find her way in Paris with no money and no place to stay.

The patrons she encounters in the café and on the street, generally wealthy and neurotic, struggle to make sense of their own lives as well.

The actors, including Cécile de France, Valérie Lemercier, Albert Dupontel, Laura Morante and Claude Brasseur, do a convincing job of fleshing out their roles with some touching moments, and Sydney Pollack amuses as the American director attempting to do a film on the life of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

The characters, quite simply drawn, do mostly what you expect and mostly get what they want. The journey from the beginning to the end of the story, diverting and intelligently written, provides just the sort of passage one might want for a solitary evening at home.

Grade: B

Avenue Montaigne is currently available.