Monday, May 08, 2006

Every love story has two sides.

As preparation for my trip to Paris next week, I rented He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, which is sort of the anti-Amélie. Unlike that film and Audrey Tautou's more recent A Very Long Engagement, He Loves Me . . . is just the right length; its parallel structure prevents digressions. I won't tell you anything more about it, but I would recommend this movie highly. The less you know about the plot, the more surprising it will be. Take a chance and watch this! Do not, however, watch Tautou's latest film. (Any American tourist I see at the Louvre with a copy of that abominable book may get a surreptitious kick in the ankle.)

(Here be SPOILERS; highlight and read if you dare.)

The thing I found remarkable about this movie is how Tautou's gamine appearance muffles our reactions to her behavior. A similar plotline with the genders reversed, or even with a less girlish actress in the lead (say, Glenn Close) would have been far more disturbing. But even as revelations of Angélique's behavior spun across the screen, I barked with startled laughter but was not frightened. Would a man find this film more scary, even with Tautou as the lover?

Unlike the NY Times reviewer, I found the ending appropriate. Anything else would have played false. Are we to imagine a final confrontation between Rachel and Angélique? An unending search for the lost love, a la A Very Long Engagement? None of the above? It leaves us with delicious ambiguity.
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