The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A sobering wake-up from the French spell

with 2 comments

It feels a bit weird to go back to talking about what’s going on on the film screen, while still in shock after what happened in Norway a few days ago.

And yet, I’ll do it.

The world hasn’t stopped, movies are still made, people are still seeing them, if only to escape the harsh reality for a couple of hours. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Life is a wonderful and precious thing and the films are there to remind us about it.

So here we go, with a review of a movie I saw last week, before it all happened.

Do you have prejudices about movies, depending on where they come from? I do.

Swedish movies will have a hard time to capture my heart; there’s something about them that triggers my critical eye. French movies on the other hand… Anything will pass. Almost.

As long as they speak the most beautiful language in the world and as long as the streets are picturesque and the cafés are cosy, I will suddenly consider a movie I would have labelled as thin, illogical and stupid coming from any country a charming gem. With a French stamp on it, nothing can go wrong.

A wake-up
The only problem is that it actually can. Even with Audrey Tautou in the main character, (the star from the unforgettable Amélie), things can go very wrong, if the idea and the script is bad enough.

My viewing of Beautiful Lies turned into a sobering wake-up from the spell that normally clouds my judgement.

The story is quite simple: A somewhat quirky hairdresser (there’s something about Audrey that makes her look quirky, regardless of what role she does) gets an anonymous love letter. She decides to give it away to her mother, who is depressed and in desperate need for some appreciation. Her mother is immensely cheered up by it, but also makes it clear that she expects more letters. Audrey starts to write them, but not with the results she was hoping for.

Intrigues will follow, where the main “joke” is a lot of misunderstandings about who wrote which letter and what people believe that the other participants in the triangle drama know about the truth.

No sympathy

The biggest problem, apart from that it’s a farce, and I’m basically not a huge fan of farces, was that I couldn’t sympathise with any of the characters. And if you ask me, that’s a requirement if it’s a romantic comedy. You’re supposed to if not love, at least like the involved people, you’re supposed to want them well and get a few happy tears in your eyes as everything is put in order. Mine were absolutely dry.

What saved my night was that I saw the movie in company with a French friend who lives in exile and has quite bad cravings for her home country.

I listened to her happy laughter throughout the movie, I saw the sparkles in her eyes at the sight of her favorite french actors, and when it was over, we went to a pub, had a glass of wine and talked about French film, speculating on what on Earth has made Gérard Depardieu grow into double his size and how he can get away with it.

But if I didn’t have a French friend around, this wouldn’t be my first choice. There are plenty of charming, moving romantic movies from France which are well worth watching. This just isn’t one of them. If you long for a light hearted romance – rewatch Amélie and you’ll be far happier.

Beautiful Lies (Original title: De vrais mensonges, Salvadori, FR, 2010) My rating: 2,5/5

Written by Jessica

July 26, 2011 at 1:00 am

Posted in Beautiful Lies

2 Responses

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  1. This is off the direct topic of Beautiful Lies, but did you know Jeunet was approached to direct the Harry Potter series after Cuaron stopped? How different would it have been if he’d done it, I wonder?

    Of course, there’s endless speculations like that out there, but still.

    Have you seen Jeunet’s other movies?


    July 26, 2011 at 1:58 am

  2. He was? I had no idea. That’s an interesting idea. There are movies in the series where I could as well have seen someone else. It goes especially for the first two ones, which I don’t remember as particularly good. But it might have to do with the fact that I saw them in the movies with a daughter too young to read the subtitles so I had to whisper the translation to her in her ear. Not that enjoyable. And then I saw them going in the background at home with dubbed sound as they came on DVD. Doh.

    I’ve seen a couple of Jeunet’s other movies. Alien – Resurrection and Delicatessen. The last one is one of those food movies that really stick in your mind. Pretty much as “special” as La Grande Bouffe….


    July 26, 2011 at 7:21 am

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