Thursday, 18 August 2011

Beautiful Lies (aka De Vrais Mensonges)

Tautou Parlour

Beautiful Lies (aka De Vrais Mensonges) 2010 France
Directed by Pierre Salvadori
Screening at UK cinemas

Well I hate to admit to being this gullible on my own blog but when it comes to the new French film starring Audrey Tautou, I found myself inside the cinema watching a movie, very much under false pretences. That is to say... the publicity is way "out there" when it comes to selling this film. Note to the people who did the marketing on this one... it’s no good marketing something as having a particular proposition or set of qualities when your product is not up to actually delivering on those promises. This movie, and I quote now from the poster which I saw on the tube on the way into the heart of London, “...matches the heights of Amelie.”

Okay, now while it may not be a very wise move for anyone to make a comparison to a movie directed by a very strong and unmistakable auteur such as Jeunet, this film in particular is way off the mark. As far as I could make out, the only common ground this film shares with Amelie was the fact that Audrey Tautou herself was in it and, at a few points in Beautiful Lies, she does forge a couple of letters... but then again so did Cyrano De Bergerac. Jeaunet’s films, even when they misfire slightly, are visual and aural treats, filled bursting to the brim with ideas. However, contrary to this image, readily conjured in our minds by wiley marketing people, we have a bit of a one trick pony of a movie with this... and that particular pony, it seems to me, was ready for the knackers yard a long time ago.

Okay... so, disappointment in my expectations for this movie aside... let me tell you what this movie isn’t.

Well, it’s certainly not a terrible movie, that’s for sure. It’s likeable enough and competently handled by the director... so that’s one on the plus side.

Another thing on the plus side is that all the actors and actresses, as seems to be a given with most French movies (or at least the ones which actually get a release on our shores), are all absolutely perfect. Tautou is, well she’s Tautou, and her comic expressions and timing are given a thorough work out in this one. Her co-star, Sami Bouajila, is an absolutely pitch perfect and reliable leading man also and the characters drawn in the script are all very likable and will win your sympathies with a special mention to the actress playing Tautou’s mother, Nathalie Baye, who is absolutely gorgeous and electrifying in her role.

All this great stuff, however, does not disguise the fact that, unlike it’s poster quote, Beautiful Lies is about as far away from the brilliance of a Jeunet film you can get without actually being rubbish. And it’s not rubbish.

What it is, when all is said and done, is a kind of French farce but one which plays out more with the feel of any American blockbuster, romantic comedy movie of the last ten years. The ideas are flat and almost lifeless and, although many people in the audience would be satisfied with a damned, good romantic comedy, which I’m sure it was... this one left me feeling cold and in a less than fuzzy mood that I’d been duped into the cinema on the promise of another extension of the cinematic art... as a opposed to a warm, romantic feel-good movie which, if truth be told, didn’t really leave me feeling that good at all.

So, short review for once because I can’t think of anything really that interesting to say about this movie. If this got more marketing and more marketplace awareness that it’s actually “out there” in this country then I’m certain it would do really well with audiences and make the studio some money. It really isn’t a bad little romantic souffle. I don’t know that this movie is, regrettably, going to get that kind of exposure to the audience it needs to reach (who might not put up with a foreign language movie in the first place) and I imagine the kind of audience it will reach is probably going to be as dissapointed with it as I was. All in all though, if you like light and fluffy romantic comedies, then this really is worth a trudge down to your local cinema to check out... or you might do better renting out a decent Katy Hepburn/Cary Grant movie instead. Your choice but don’t delay because I reckon this one wont be in our cinemas for very long. As I said before, I doubt it will find it’s audience in this country.

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