Wednesday, 6 January 2010

He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not

Lowdown: A love story with a sick twist.
Yet another French film starring Audrey Tautou? That could be a potentially good start: even if Tautou has an established reputation for getting on my nerves, she also has a tendency to occasionally take part in interesting movies. And “interesting” is probably the best word I can use to describe 2002’s He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (or, as per the original French title, À la folie... pas du tout). Otherwise, I’d have a hard time telling you whether it’s a romantic comedy, a drama or a thriller; so let's just say it's interesting.
He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not starts by introducing us to Tautou’s character, a charming young student with friends and an active lifestyle who manages to navigate through her art studies, her work as a waitress and her social life. In fact, she’s so good in the art department she’s been picked to do something special. The only problem? She’s in love with a married guy who can’t seem to shake his annoying wife despite promising to do so. You sit there in front of your TV, watching He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not and you just wonder when Tautou will get the point and switch off the guy. But she doesn’t, and for the first act of the film you absorb one disappointment after the other for Tautou as frustration after frustration hits.
But then the film takes on another point of view, and what you might have thought to be a conventional love story triangle (perhaps with a bit of sex, given that this is a French film after all) turns out to be something completely different. No, it’s not the sex (there’s no sex at all in this film – what a disappointment!); it’s the film turning into a Rashomon type movie where different perspectives tell different stories. At first it’s like a detective mystery where you’re trying to draw the lines between the points and figure things out, and slowly it creeps up on you: the film is actually dealing with mental illness.
At this point I’ll stop discussing the film due to the immanent blooper risk. What I will say is that this seemingly conventional film that we’re all tired of seeing turns into an original and interesting film. The boredom at the outset is switched into intrigue somewhere in the middle and quite effectively. Not many movies can achieve that feat, so it’s nice to see a film that does so while dealing with a tough subject.
That said, the toughness of the subject does cause some corner cutting. Some of the plot and events are just too improbable while others don’t make sense. In the grand scheme of things, though, I was willing to forget those hard edges.
Best scene: There is a nice shot where we see events taking place from the point of view of a water glass sitting on a table. I’m a sucker for such original shots.
Overall: Starts dull but the twist caught me, leaving He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars out of 5.

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