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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (NR)
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Official Site
Director: Laetitia Colombani
Producers: Charles Gassot
Written by: Laetitia Colombani, Caroline Thivel
Cast: Audrey Tautou, Samuel Le Bihan, Sophie Guillemin, Clement Sibony, Isabelle Carré

Rating: out of 5

Dalliances of lovers morph into desperate one-sided attempts for a connection in He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, a French film with two competing versions of reality. Surrounded by blooms at the beginning of the film, art student Angélique (Tautou) sweetly decides to send cardiologist Loïc (Le Behan), her new love, a flower to commemorate their anniversary. Consumed by her magical springtime affair in Bourdeaux, the romance is palpable for Angélique, and the rest of her life quickly takes second place to the object of her affection.

Her friends, however, are convinced that the doctor is a cad, incapable of devotion or of leaving his pregnant wife for his artsy mistress. After a florid beginning, Angélique’s efforts become misguided and she sinks into a deep depression because Loïc ignores all her subsequent advances. As the story and Angélique’s melancholy progress, the film digresses in vivacity and speed. Emotions swing from love and passion to heartbreak and misunderstanding.

All is not lost though. The story line rewinds at mid-section and reels back to the start, when Angélique is in the flower store. After this cinematic twist, all interactions are from the new perspective of cardiologist Loïc. However, the lucent colors fade immediately and the doctor’s newly established sang-froid quickly diminishes as Angélique sheds what we perceived as sweetness for squalls of rage and bi-polar fits of despair.

Passion is a tricky business, especially when unrequited. In Loïc’s version of reality, Angélique is driven in her deluded quest to snatch him out of his happy marriage. Her temporary house, laden with concrete manifestations of her delusions, becomes as cluttered as her mind. She seems incurable and acrimonious at the tale’s end, and we are left to draw our own conclusions concerning the fate of the love-struck and mentally forsaken gamine.

Director/writer Laetitia Colombani belabors the symbolism at times, but demonstrates focus and creativity that exceed expectations for an ingénue film maker. The lighting and color schemes are subtle and effective. Unconsciously, most will realize the complexities of Angélique before they are deliberately revealed. Although the film should have ended a wee bit earlier, the structural balance was sprinkled with new revelations from Loïc’s point of view that continued to dismay.

With every repetition of Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E”, the film amplifies its message—that Angélique is a S-T-A-L-K-E-R. Or is she? The psychotic nuances of love are worth a watch either way, even if it’s just to see Audrey Tautou take on a grittier persona than her winsome character in Amelie. 

—Sandra M. Ogle


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