He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not – Audrey Tautou Retrospective #3

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“We all dream of a great love affair. I just dream a little harder.”

As I cover Audrey Tautou’s body of work I am consciously learning as little as I possibly can about each film new to me so as to best surprise myself every time and gosh darn did that choice pay off with He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not. After watching only the trailer I had no idea of the things I would ultimately see and feel during the feature despite the fact that, ultimately, even by European film standards the overall plot is simple enough (woman fancies man who is married, he remains with his wife, she gets a bit clingy and mad). It is when the film’s meaty character and situational comedy/drama kick in that Laetitia Colombani’s feature debut wallops you right in the heart bone.

Audrey Tautou plays Angélique, a young, bouncy woman who has everything coming her way. Tautou’s smile reaches critical levels of cuteness as she skips and dances through winning a prestigious art scholarship, being given the opportunity to house-sit an insanely expensive home and the blossoming of love for the rugged Dr Loïc Le Garrec (Samuel Le Bihan). This is the happiest film ever… until it’s not. After Garrec makes it obvious that he wants to remain with his pregnant wife Angélique turns sour and becomes the definitive Overly Attached Girlfriend.

He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not - Audrey Tautou

Simply put, Angélique does some truly terrible things; things that will have you feeling a mix of excitement and horrified shock. Despite the carnage that Angélique proves she can produce the film’s exploration of her erotomania – calm down folks, there’s no lusty sex scenes – puts us firmly on her side, not that we’re not also on Dr Garrec’s side too, though. Thanks to the opening act’s aesthetic, which aims to be the most colourful and uplifting thing you will ever see, and Tautou’s deft ability to play such an empathetic victim, when the narrative inevitably turns against her we root for her unequivocally.

Whilst Tautou at first appears be playing another standard love interest this is arguably one of the best performances in her portfolio. For the most part she plays her character’s illness very straight which is often the cause of the mixed excitement and shock we feel throughout the film, but as the story develops further and things get a little more unhinged Tautou’s base Girl In Love act becomes something else completely. In fact, Tautou and Le Bihan are so individually captivating in their roles that you barely even notice that their shared screen-time is somewhat very petite.

Not to instate a bit of hyperbole, but He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not is perfect film-making. When excellent direction and cinematography come together with keen acting and a meticulously compassionate script you get this, a 96-minute comedy drama that makes you kick yourself for having not watched it earlier.