Go to Homepage   He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (A La Folie…Pas Du Tout): the Art of Persistence

  Crescent Blues Movie Views

r rated, four moon icon
In the fickle French import, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (A La Folie…Pas Du Tout), the line between love and obsession remains but a drawing of circumstance, and the art of love becomes the art of persistence.

The film begins like a scene out of Amelie, Audrey Tautou's recent star-making vehicle in which she portrayed Montmartre's resident do-gooder. As the camera pans, moving past a vibrant display of assorted flowers -- the audience meets Angelique (Tautou), a 20-something art student with the soul and passion of Camille Claudel. Blushing like a delicate red rose, Angelique recalls the day she met Loic (Samuel LeBihan), a cardiologist and married father-to-be, with whom she immediately fell in love while buying flowers from a Bordeaux florist. After their brief, yet romantic introduction -- he presents her with a single long-stemmed rose -- the two begin dating and Angelique assumes the role of the impassioned other woman. She promises herself to win her man and live happily ever after with him in Florence.

Then writer-director Laetitia Colombani gives birth to yet another idea, infusing a seemingly "normal" love story with a dark French twist. Colombani's method: set the story in motion, lay the groundwork for a series of ill-fated events and watch the audience squirm amid a gear-shifting transition that explains what really happened between the Gallic sweetheart and l'homme qu'elle aime.

In a scene played out during the rewind sequence, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not drops an unpredictable bomb, retelling Loic's side of the story with an acerbic, nonlinear style that weaves together a symmetrical Hitchcockean tale. LeBihan -- last seen in Christophe Gans' Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups) -- proves a formidable leading man for the scene stealing Tautou. He ups his status as France's reigning heartthrob with a performance which showcases his ability to convey a masculine sense of vulnerability in much the same vein as Gerard Depardieu.

Colombani, a first-time feature length director, boasts a New Wave approach to filmmaking with a unique style that recalls rebel cinema. Like Godard, Truffaut and Chabrol, she strives to broaden cinematic concepts. Here she adopts an extemporaneous, surreal camera style that reinforces the idea that visual conception binds the creation of a film with the camera rather than the pen.

However, Colombani's most inspired coup may have been casting the sugar spun Tautou as the detached, love struck Angelique. Tautou -- whose faultless performance highlights her ability to portray characters that transcend the beguiling, wide-eyed ingénue -- packs a powerful punch. She quickly dispels the notion that a gamine head turner lacks the versatility or the acting chops to mirror the iconic queen of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve.

But the ultimate triumph of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not arises from its ingenuous premise that truth can sometimes be one-sided. The film proves that a deft filmmaker, like Colombani, can take a carefully crafted screenplay, reminiscent of Francois Truffaut's 1975 masterpiece, The Story of Adele H. and eke out a pitch perfect film where things are not always what they appear to be.

Tiffany Sanchez

Click here to share your views.