Time Out says
Olivier Assayas’s sharp comedy-drama reappraises the modern world through the prism of human connections and extramarital bonking.
Olivier Assayas’s latest film is almost parodically French. It positively swarms with extramarital affairs and its characters hold long conversations about the place of art over tasty-looking lunches. But it’s also a funny and often profound look at life in a changing world.
Book editor Alain (Guillaume Canet) is struggling with the challenges of e-book publishing while his actress wife Selena (Juliette Binoche) tries to decide whether to sign up for a fourth season of her hit cop show. Meanwhile, a sad-sack writer of ‘feel-bad’ novels, Léonard (Vincent Macaigne), is fighting off accusations that he relies too heavily on his own life in his fiction, while his left-wing consultant wife Valérie (Nora Hamzawi) is resisting advice to rely more on social media campaigns.
Plot is less the point here, of course, than the characters. With them, Assayas creates spiky, smart exchanges that give the film its pace and comedy. At least, he does most of the time. A few of his treatises on modern publishing and the internet betray a Luddite bent, and his treatment of the digital evangelists who see that future as inevitable, including Alain’s younger colleague and lover Laure (Christa Théret), feels dismissive. But Assayas’s ultimate message is optimistic: change comes, whether we like it or not, and those most willing to accept it have the best chance to find happiness.
Cast and crew