Breezy New French Film ‘Anaïs in Love’ Review


Greetings again from the dark. Barely five minutes later, we concluded that Anaïs is a whirlwind of activity. She’s behind on her rent and yet turns the conversation with her landlord to fruit juice and a smoke detector. This is the first feature film by writer-director Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, which benefits greatly from the presence of lead actress Anaïs Demoustier. I don’t know if the name is a coincidence or if it was written with her in mind, but you quickly realize that Anaïs is a mess. A charming mess, and for which hope remains.

Anais is always late. She walks, runs or cycles everywhere. Her bright red lipstick is always on display, and she is claustrophobic and prefers to sleep alone. The constant twinkle in her eyes means people are looking past her seemingly carefree approach to real life, as she makes the most of every landing spot in her directionless path(s) through each day. We observe and learn all these things in addition to the big secret that she has hidden from her boyfriend Raoul (Christophe Montenez). During the exchange they have when he breaks up with her, she says: “You are violent in your inertia. This might be my favorite line of the year. What others see as stability and reliability, Anaïs sees as inertia and unattractiveness.

When Anaïs takes Daniel (Denis Podalydès) as her lover, it is the oldest married man who ends up declaring that he does not want his life to change. Anaïs shrugs her shoulders and turns her attention and affection towards Daniel’s wife, Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Human capital, sister of Carla Bruni). Emilie is a famous author and Anaïs sneaks off tracking Emilie to Normandy where she is holding a colloquium. Writing, books and literature play subtle but essential roles throughout, as if Anaïs is trying to live through so many stories she has read.

If there’s anything missing here, it’s the traditional character clash. Even the surprise collision of Daniel, Emilie and Anaïs at the symposium lacks the dramatic or comedic punch one would expect. Anaïs is never very concerned, neither are we as spectators. We’re too enamored and intrigued by her energy and wit to let real life cause consternation. The subplot with Anais’ mother is the closest we see Anais come to “normal” emotions, but even getting to this point is yet another whirlwind.

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William D. Babcock

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