24 Nov


Directors: David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos

Writer: David Foenkinos (novel) (screenplay)

Stars: Audrey Tautou, François Damiens and Bruno Todeschini

Motion Picture Rating: 12A

Runtime: 108 minutes


What is it about Audrey Tautou? Probably the Amelie effect. Ever since she arrived in that stunning 2001 film she has been able to make movies like no other actress. In this film and many others (Beautiful Lies, Priceless, A Very Long Engagement) she is in almost every scene and placed right in the centre of every frame. She is allowed a voiceover and the camera seems to be at her beck and call. Her pixie presence is exalted. The pouty overbite, the ink black eyes, the asymmetric haircut, the megawatt smile are all on display and one wonders if the director is not a little smitten. It’s a strange phenomenon. I roll with it as I am partially smitten myself, but there are many out there, men and women alike, who struggle with Tautou.

In this French film she plays Nathalie, a young woman that loses her husband to a tragic accident and thereafter throws herself into work. Her career flourishes, but apart from fending off her lecherous boss she lives a very quiet and self-contained life. Men are attracted to her, but she is ambivalent towards them. She is difficult to read which makes her a strong boss, but exasperates close friends and family unsure about her recovery. Into her small life stumbles a colleague called Markus (Francois Damiens). He is a geeky accountant with fashion issues, bad teeth and a limited amount of life experience. He is delicate in the French sense of the word IE tactful and respectful, but he is no lady killer and physically a bit of a slob.

This film has its heart in the right place and is concerned with grief and how people move on with their lives. The central story is Nathalie and her surprising relationship with Markus. They are an unorthodox couple and the French obsession with social convention is dealt with in how others, mainly Nathalie’s friends and family, react to his appearance by her side. Those awkward scenes mostly provide humour and the film is certainly set up as an unconventional rom-com. That’s fine and it kind of works, but the few bigger laughs all come from Damiens as the unsuitable suitor. Besides him, it is not quite funny enough and Tautou for once can’t save the day. She’s nice, he’s charming and the oddball pairing is fun, but not a whole lot more.

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