Lively, warm-hearted drama embracing the mess of life
- Anaïs in Love review by PD
This lively, warm-hearted drama introduces Anaïs, a character who is as magnetic and passionate as she is infuriating. Featuring a performance from Anaïs Demoustier that is equal parts energetic and blisteringly self-aware, the film is very endearing even if its resolution ultimately falters.
Anaïs is neurotic, impulsive, perpetually late, always running, although it's precisely because of this that it seems like everyone else is merely trying to catch up with her. Attempting to finish a thesis on 17th-century descriptions of passion that's about as late as her last few months of rent, Anaïs flings herself frantically from moment to moment, with the result that, shortly after an affair with with much older Daniel, she finds herself totally infatuated with his writer wife Emilie (very well played by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). It's very hard for a viewer not to be drawn into her freewheeling charm - a great comic scene involving Anaïs' oversharing her life in quick-fire French as she shows some Korean tourists around her apartment that she is sub-letting (even though they don't speak a word of her native language) is Anaïs in a nutshell. It also helps that Demoustier's performance bounces between the overcorrecting self-confidence of someone still trying to shake off their late 20s and a childlike naïveté that's perhaps more of a defence mechanism rather than representative of underlying insecurity. 'I don't want to meet interesting people,' she says in response to her mother's career advice, 'I want to BE interesting'.
The first half of the film succeeds in drawing us in to Anaïs' world, but it truly finds its heart in the slower second half as Demoustier and Tedeschi's chemistry is spot-on as they convene on a writer's symposium that is being led by Emilie. Their relationship is clearly fuelled by a passion that Anaïs has been missing in her own life - one particular scene sees Anais one conversation with Emilie about a crush the latter had on her writing teacher when she was 14 years old, and with just a slight bow of the head, it's clear Anaïs sees herself in this 14-year-old version of Emilie and that she is both embarrassed and awestruck by this revelation.
Unfortunately, however, such revelations ultimately don't amount to much, for the director struggles to get us under Anaïs' skin, as it were, with the consequence that any growth she experiences during the film is rather lost, whilst the final scene's attempt at ambiguity seemed rather rushed and thus ultimately unconvincing to me. That all said, the film isn't afraid to embrace the mess — of life, of love, of being unsure in a world where indecisiveness is an inevitable result of the futile attempt to impose order on such bewildering chaos.
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful.
Charming French Romance
- Anaïs in Love review by GI
There's a certain charm to this French romance with a little romcom farce in the mix. It's all a bit too light in atmosphere to hold any sense of a serious film work but the central performance by Anaïs Demoustier keeps it all together. She plays Anais of the title, a giddingly carefree young woman who lives life without a sense of any commitment and isn't afraid to say so. She borders on narcissism but her sheer joy in everything without any idea of responsibility holds this at bay until she has a dalliance with an older man and then finds herself obsessing over his long term partner, Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and pursues her to a symposium she is attending. Romance blossoms until her partner shows up to threaten things. There's a sort of cerebral eroticism at play here and it all jostles along at a pleasant and delightful pace. As I said it lacks that dose of seriousness but it's perfectly enjoyable to watch.
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.