He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
À la folie… pas du tout
review by Nicholas Schager, 14 February 2003

Audrey Tautou, the enchantingly impish star of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie, must have decided that the best way to branch out as an actress was to go psycho. In He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, Tautou plays Angélique, a gifted student painter head-over-heels in love with her cardiologist boyfriend Loïc (Samuel Le Bihan). Angélique is housesitting for a family in Bordeaux, and the darling city – a vibrant, picturesque wonderland of wine and roses – reflects the exhilaration of her charmed life. Her only problem in the world is the annoying fact that Loïc is married, and his wife is expecting their first child. But despite the warnings of her friend (and secret admirer) David (Clément Sibony), Angélique remains steadfast in the belief that Loïc will soon leave his old ball-and-chain for a life with

This, however, is no simply romance. Director Laetitia Colombani’s supposedly cheery film makes an abrupt shift at its midpoint, devolving into a Fatal Attraction-style portrait of female obsession; the film – which spends the first forty minutes showing us life through Angélique’s eyes – rewinds and begins again, this time showing us the same events from Loïc’s very different vantage point. It turns out that Angélique barely knows the strappingly handsome if somewhat milquetoast doctor, and the scenes we’ve previously witnessed of the two enjoying one another’s company are nothing but the distorted projections of her severely warped mind.

Ho hum. Once this tired narrative device has reared its ugly head, what we’re left with is a predictable tale of infatuation run amok. Tautou, channeling Glenn Close but coming up with little more than Amélie  with a vacant stare, apparently wants to distance herself from the wholesome, playful image she’s now associated with. Unfortunately, the results are about as convincing as casting Doris Day as the Angel of Death. Tautou is given increasingly bizarre stalker affectations – first she sends Loïc a rose and a note, then a painting of himself, and finally a human heart with an arrow through it – but those enormous doe eyes and irresistible dimples sabotage her attempts at real psychosis.

Even disregarding the film’s latent misogyny – which, like many cinematic tales of love gone awry, portrays deranged affection as a distinctly female malady – He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is very little fun, and, even at ninety minutes, is easily thirty minutes too long. Much of that unnecessary time is spent with Le Bihan’s Loïc, who, decked out in plain suits and spectacles that fail to convince one of his intellect, is burdened by a reaction-only role that simply requires him to look anxious and frightened. That the payoff for our patience is a numb-skulled explanatory finale that, in a Psycho-inspired touch, provides a pat clinical explanation for Tautou’s disturbed behavior, merely exposes the film’s considerable lack of imagination.

Colombani has stated that her inspiration for the film was The Sixth Sense, whose surprise ending forced viewers to reassess the validity of everything that had preceded it. But by giving us the twist mid-way through the film and then taking deliberate steps to show us how our initial assumptions were wrong, the film is like a mildly clever joke ruined by the ensuing explanation of why it’s funny.

Written and
Directed by:

Laetitia Colombani

Audrey Tautou
Samuel Le Bihan
Isabelle Carre
Clément Sibony
Sophie Guillemin
Eric Savin

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult







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