This featherweight, well-dressed French drama is amiable enough even if it leaves a lingering whiff of phoniness in the air after it’s left the room. It sees Emmanuelle Devos as Anne, a well-heeled, glum Parisienne and former perfumier having trouble with her sense of smell, and Grégory Montel as Guillaume, her new chauffeur with life stresses of his own, not least a rumbling custody case involving his ten-year-old daughter. Call it ‘Driving Mademoiselle D’Aisy’: each has lessons to learn from the other, and it’s no surprise that life slowly brightens up for both in each other’s company, although whether the rewards will be romantic, or friendly, or professional, or all of the above are questions that writer-director Grégory Magne doesn’t rush to answer. He prefers a leisurely, wistful approach to storytelling rather than big showdowns and major revelations.
That said, it’s a story that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, with numerous strands left to fizzle out or appear and then quickly disappear again (like a quick cameo from Spanish actor Sergi López). You get the sense of a filmmaker so seduced by the idea of a mysterious woman with a creative sense of smell – a powerful nose – that he hasn’t tried so hard to build fully realised characters and events around the concept. Still, Devos gets away with being stylish and enigmatic, and Montel fits the part of the hangdog everyman well enough. It’s just about worth a sniff.