Agnès Jaoui’s marvellous movie is nominally centred on Lolita Cassard (Marilou Berry), a 20-year-old classical singer happy neither with her looks nor her relationship with her successful but self-centred writer father Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri); but it actually gives just as much room to her music teacher Sylvia (Jaoui), the woman’s struggling-novelist hubby Pierre (Laurent Grevill) and sundry other characters. All are caught up in an absurd, horribly familiar (from life, rather than cinema) dance of attraction and repulsion, ambition and disappointment, loyalty and betrayal. To reveal more would diminish the many pleasures to be had from what was one of the most warmly received films in Cannes last May; quite simply, it’s an enormously witty, touching, wondrously perceptive roundelay that examines contemporary manners and attitudes to family, friendship, physical appearance, celebrity, sex, age, art, class and the whole damn thing.
Some, I suppose, might bemoan the focus on arty bourgeois Parisians, but given that that’s exactly the milieu Jaoui and Bacri are coming from, the account of their pretensions and often egotistical behaviour is beautifully barbed, unsentimental and credible; the couple’s writing is razor-sharp, the performances deft, carefully nuanced and rounded. (Even a character one might initially dismiss as a bimbo stereotype is allowed her moment of truth.) Are the articulate dialogue, humanist concerns and fascination with the relationship between life and art a bit old-fashioned? Who cares? This is exemplary cinema in the classical tradition, as lucid, subtle and pertinent in its social and philosophical implications as it is entertaining in its storytelling. Bravo!
|Release date:||Friday November 5 2004|
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri|
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