Emilie (Tautou) runs a beauty salon with her friend Sylvia (Lagarde), but neither knows that their handyman Jean (Bouajila) has a crush on Emilie, who's intimidated by the fact that Jean used to work for the UN. When she receives an anonymous love letter, which she doesn't realise was written by Jean, she forwards it to perk up her lonely mother Maddy (Baye). But Maddy develops a correspondence with her "mystery lover" and eventually traces the letters back to Jean. So Emilie asks him to play along. Of course, he's not happy about this.
While the plot is pure farce, the film plays out in a gently sunny way, with brightly colourful photography and a constant sense of cheeky humour, even with Emilie's critical short temper and Maddy's wild fantasies. Neither of these women should be hugely likeable, but Tautou and Baye have such terrific screen presence that we sympathise with them even more when their characters do something wrong or stupid, which they do rather often. Meanwhile, Bouajila is simply adorable as the nice guy caught up in the mess, and yet he has a steely side that makes him more than a mere comical foil.
In other words, the film is so warm and happy that it's almost impossible not to enjoy it. While we know that Emilie and Jean are obviously destined to find each other, the script gleefully finds ways to push them further and further apart. These obstacles are actually believable for a change, and are sometimes rather heartbreaking. Even though this goes on a bit too long, it's entertaining to sit back and enjoy the increasingly messy journey.
Essentially the story is reminding us that we need to express our feelings, be truthful in our relationships and recognise love when we see it. Sure, these are things that everyone already knows, but if movie characters acted accordingly there wouldn't be any rom-coms on screen. And if we remembered them, we'd all live happily ever after ourselves.
Run time: 105 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 8th December 2010
Distributed by: Pathé Distribution
Production compaines: Trinity Filmed Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Pierre Salvadori
Producer: Benoit Graffin, Pierre Salvadori
Screenwriter: Philippe Martin
Also starring: Pierre Salvadori