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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (2002)

PG-13 · 92 minutes

Directed by Laetitia Colombani
Written by Laetitia Colombani, Caroline Thivel

Starring
 · Audrey Tautou
 · Samuel Le Bihan


Review by Thom Stricklin

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is another film I saw entirely because of the lovely Audrey Tautou (Amélie, Dirty Pretty Things). I've grown quite fond of her between those films. In fact, you could say I was obsessed with her.

But then, you won't know what obsession is unless you've seen this film.

WARNING: This review contains spoilers. I will try my best to hide specific spoilers, but the very nature of the film may make it difficult to discuss without some spoiling.

 

Smarts

 
 55%

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not centers around two characters, Angelique (Audrey Tautou), an very talented young art student, and Loic (Samuel Le Bihar), a cadiologist whom Angelique is madly in love with, despite his marriage to another woman. We watch as Angelique tries her all to salvage this doomed love affair, and as it reaches finality, we discover something incredible... As we retread the story from Loic's point of view, we learn not only that he doesn't love Angelique, that he has no plans to leave his wife... He barely knows her at all! He's only seen her in passing, and spoken no more than a few words to her. Angelique is obsessed with a total stranger, and trapped in her obsession, proceeds to make his life a living hell.

One would think this has the makings of a great twist-ending thriller, and it does... But it falls short or it's potential. A large part of this is due to the first act, which establishes Angelique's character. Sadly, while devoloping sympathy for the girl could really engage the audience and prepare them for the surprising change in perspective, we're given little room to sympathize. At best, Angelique is a foolish girl intent on keeping her lover, even if it means breaking apart a family.

This could've been prevented easily by adding an imagined romantic rendezvous between Loic and Angelique in the early scenes of the film. This way, we could've seen the couple together, understood how special it is to Angelique and why she should be so intent on making love last. Such a scene could easily be explained at the end of the film, in the scene where Angelique admits "there is a world that exists in my head". My guess is Colombani fell victim to expectations of French cinema, which stresses realism, and probably frowns upon flights of fancy and delusion, which American audiences have embraced with films like Fight Club.

 

Popcorn

 
 80%

All that said, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is still an enjoyable film, especially once you get through the first act. Some moments will surely startle with amazement that someone would go to such extreme measures, even for love.

The intrigue of the film is solidified by its acting. While her character is flawed on paper, Audrey Tautou delivers a solid performance as Angelique. Her acting is probably the best contribution to what legitimacy we lend to her character. Samuel Le Bihan has much more to work with here, and delivers a terrific performance as Loic. The sympathy we create for Loic, largely through Le Bihan's sincerity in the role, easily balances out the flaws of the other lead character.

Laetitia Colombani's novice status as a filmmaker as well as writer is made obvious, but she shows promise as well. She does a good job lining up all the happenings between both points of view, and provides us with some rich visuals, although she promises better with the opening credits.

 

Final

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is fine as a rental if you're Tautou-obsessed or have a general interest in French of foreign films. If you're looking for a good romantic thriller, you might enjoy the film, but you'll probably have just as good luck with an American film, and without the bother of reading subtitles


639 Words · Published: 14 September 2003

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