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