‘He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not’ Features Audrey Tatou in an Intriguing Romantic Thriller

Sandra Bertrand

 

When it comes to games of the heart, the French are very deft players.  And that’s never been more the case than when Audrey Tautou, that wickedly charming screen gamin, walks into a flower shop and orders a rose for her beloved.  In Laetitia Colombani’s black comedy, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, “a rose is not just a rose is not just a rose” in Gertrude Stein’s apt phrase, but a symbol of some very dark and dirty business of the heart ahead.

As the story unfolds, we follow Angelique as she tails the unlikely object of her affections—Loic, a married cardiologist whose wife is pregnant with their first child—with a dogged determination.  We could chalk it up to one more starry-eyed art student with an outsized crush, but matters soon get out of hand.  Her fantasies for romantic fulfillment are worthy of a Greek tragedy.  From buying tickets for a love tryst in Florence and sitting abandoned in the air terminal to a botched suicide, none of Angelique’s plans seem to get off the ground.

Halfway through this muddle of the heart, the film rewinds back to the beginning.  Now, through Loic’s steadfast eyes, we see just how deadly a game Angelique is willing to play.  Unrequited love can be sad and even painful at best, but obsessive passion like Angelique’s—though farcically comical at strategic moments in the script—is horrid. 

 

 

So what saves this little Gallic tale of love gone mad?  Audrey Tautou, of course.  The ingenuous radiance about this actress transcends whatever dark twists and turns of the heart her character may hold.  Audiences that were enchanted by her in Amelie (2001) or Dirty Pretty Things (2002) won’t be surprised to see her ply the same magic again to this frothy thriller.

Tautou may outshine all the rest in this lopsided affair, but Samuel Le Bihan as Loic, her cardiologist, does his best to keep up the pace.  There’s a gentle but physical brusqueness about this actor reminiscent of the young Gerard Depardieu that works well here.  Isabelle Carre as the anguished wife and Clement Sibony as the confused young suitor are also notable. 

All in all, there’s a cheery overlay here to an otherwise serious subject at play.  Colorful graphics of the heart, even strains of Nat King Cole singing “Love Was Made For Me and You” at key points in the script, make for an overall lightheartedness.  It’s a difficult balance to achieve but director Colombani has pulled it off and the result is a stylistic romp worth seeing.

 

Author Bio:

Sandra Bertrand is Highbrow Magazine’s chief art critic.

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