Beautiful Lies – Audrey Tautou Retrospective #5

Beautiful Lies

Beautiful Lies was the first Audrey Tautou film I saw in a cinema. Up until then I had only watched a variety of her features in my university’s lecture theatre and the series of bedrooms I have inhabited since that time. I can’t say whether or not the cinema enhanced my overall experience/opinion of this film or not as when I re-watched it for the purpose of this review I realized that the intimacy of the characters and plot (much like most of Tautou’s body of work) is just as striking in the comfort of my armchair as it is watching it on the big screen.

Whilst you would be correct in the assumption that Audrey Tautou plays the girl in and out of love in this dram-rom-com, she once again makes a departure from the stereotypical female lead, playing successful hairstylist/businesswoman, Émilie, a woman who is quite frankly unlikable for a good chunk of the film (in actions only; gosh, I’d never not like Audrey Tautou). Émilie is the kind of shirty woman who can bring her staff and customers to sobs in a heartbeat. She thinks she knows best and has no qualms about practicing this, which brings about many of the film’s more comedic and dramatic moments.

Jean (Sami Bouajila) is the handyman putting the final touches on Émilie’s salon. After developing a strong crush on Émilie he writes her an anonymous love letter which she, directly in front of him, shrugs off, crumples and deposits in the bin. Elsewhere, Émilie’s mother (Nathalie Baye) is falling ever deeper into a crazy depression after her husband left her for a young woman. The inspired romance of Jean’s letter strikes Émilie and she forwards it to her mother, subsequently struggling to keep up the ruse of an anonymous romance with inferior soliloquies. Numerous he-loves-her, she-loves-anonymous, he’s-with-her-but-now-she-loves-him twists and turns later and we’ve got a film packed with enough awkward romance and drama to remake Friends, but funnier, and French.

Writer/director, Pierre Salvadori and co-writer, Benoît Graffin once again (amongst others, they collaborated on Priceless, their first Tautou film) expertly craft a series of misunderstandings, romantic smackdowns and childish bickering without ever crossing the line into the melodramatic, making our investment into each and every romantic thread worth the meandering it takes to get to the pay-off. With colourful cinematography that is as lively as its clever script there is rarely a moment of down-time, and the human performances put in from all are exceptional. Like many French dramatic romantic comedies, this is not just sniffles and ice cream; there is so much more character and depth to every aspect of the world these people live in. Without intentionally being hyperbolic, where funny, dramatic romance is involved, it really doesn’t get much better than Beautiful Lies.

Out Now – 12th August 2011

After the excitement of the past two days we are left with no films on general release out today. Well… there is one Bollywood film but we tend to ignore those. Genuinely no idea why.

The Taqwacores (limited release)
A Pakistani student is introduced to the world of Taqwacores, the Muslim punk rock scene (obviously), and starts to question his faith and ideologies. Reviews aren’t great but it’s only 83 minutes long and according to someone on IMDb, lead actor Bobby Naderi is “soooo sweet and very talented”.

The Salt of Life (limited release)
Italian comedy with no helpful English websites. Here’s a Google translation of the plot from the Italian Wikipedia page; “The film, set in Rome , is John, a retiree in his sixties, married with a daughter and daughter’s boyfriend charged, disappointed by life and driven by his lawyer Alfonso, looking for new loving motivations.” That mostly makes sense.

Project Nim (limited release)
Released just after Rise of the Planet of the Apes to maximise profits from people making a deliberate stand against big blockbusters and confused people who like to order tickets just by pointing at the film poster, this is the week’s second film about a chimpanzee. This time round it’s a documentary about a chimp raised like a human baby in the 1970’s. Who doesn’t love a baby chimp?

The Interrupters (limited release)
Documentary looking at “a year in the life of a city grappling with urban violence.” How very topical.

Beautiful Lies (limited release)
Director reunites with Audrey Tautou to make a film with a plot rendered inconsequential because Audrey Tautou is in it and is amazing.

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (limited release)
Dubbed a crossed between The Departed and The Godfather, this film has a plot hard to summarise in a few pithy sentences. Watch the trailer below instead and come up with your own brief synopsis. 10 points for every awkward pun.

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