Run time: 108 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 21st December 2011
Distributed by: Cohen Media Group
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 43 Rotten: 25
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: David Foenkinos, Stephane Foenkinos
Producer: Xavier Rigault, Marc-Antoine Robert
Screenwriter: David Foenkinos
Starring: Malcolm Tomlinson as Avery, Richard Morse as Jonathan, Elizabeth Henstridge as The Virgin, David Mattia as The Estate Owner
Nathalie (Tautou) has a perfect life with her childhood sweetheart Francois (Marmai). And with a new job and a decision to start a family, the future looks bright. So when Francois dies in a sudden accident, Nathalie throws herself into work to cope. Three years later, while fending off the advances of her lecherous boss (Todeschini), she inexplicably kisses dorky coworker Markus (Damiens). And without really trying, they embark on a tentative, unexpected relationship.
A lot of the plot is fairly inexplicable, actually, as people constantly do something without thinking, reacting to some sort of internal emotional urge.
Some of these things are positive, but others are much darker, and the filmmakers somehow manage to blend a wide variety of emotional tones into the story while making it feel effortless and breezy. The heavier notes never take anything away from scenes that are lighter and sweeter, but rather deepen everything along the way.
Tautou is terrific in the central role, which is a clever twist on her usual movie persona, allowing her to give a much more layered performance than we usually see. And her chemistry with Marmai, Damiens and Todeschini is simply wonderful, as each actor brings a specific hangdog charm to the screen. But what's most intriguing is the way Damiens cleverly reveals Markus' inner soul, letting us see why Nathalie is unable to resist him when everyone else is baffled.
It's rare for a film to maintain a light tone while grappling with issues of grief and public pressure. Watching Nathalie's best friend (de Meaux) react to Markus is seriously chilling, mainly because it's so beautifully underplayed.
And this kind of subtlety infuses the entire film, worming under our skin to let us see ourselves in each character. So even if the plot feels far too constructed and obvious (a typical novelist-turned-filmmaker error), the characters keep us entertained and challenged.