DIRECTOR: CHARLINE BOURGEOIS-TACQUET
CAST: ANAÏS DEMOUSTIER, VALERIA BRUNI TEDESCHI, DENIS PODALYDÈS
RT 98 mins approx. | Cert 15 FRANCE 2021; SUBTITLES| PECCADILLO PICTURES
UK CINEMAS AUGUST 2022
Photos: Anaïs Demoustier (centre) with Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR
"I wanted to depict the portrait of a complex young woman, caught in a web of material and existential difficulties corresponding with her age and era."
Funnily enough writer-director Charlene Bourgeois-Tacquet's debut film achieves this despite the main focus of the film being a flighty demoiselle sporting skimpy, gossamer dresses as she cycles hectically across Paris in pursuit of love. However, Anais (Anaïs Demoustier, The New Girlfriend) is nothing like the giddy fashionistas in Emily in Paris.
Spontaneity pervades this charming, witty film French style - in so much as lovers are savoured like a tasting menu. Demoustier certainly haemorrhages plenty of spontaneity as the thirty-year-old student of “C17 Passion in Literature” making ends meet by subletting her Paris apartment to Korean tourists as she dashes off to her affairs. She ditches her overly serious boyfriend, hooks up with a publisher Daniel (Denis Podalydès) who undervalues her youthful desirability and then sets her sights on his wife Emilie (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi), a romantic intellectual with a few novels under her belt. The antics begin when Anais follows Emilie to a writers' retreat and Daniel turns up.
Everything about Emilie resonates for Anais who believes she is a younger version of the mature, enchanting novelist. Anais is nothing if not a narcissist in the nicest of ways and she develops a carefree obsession for Emilie, her mirror image. This abandonment, mixed with determination to enjoy life, is very heartfelt in Anais in Love. However, there are more sobering concerns for the protagonist which stop the narrative drifting into a superfluous Netflix series.
Anais's interest in older lovers is curious. Apart from a few secondary characters there is an absence of youth in the film. Anais is hooked on fifty somethings. Her obsession goes unremarked, as if chasing lovers twenty or thirty years older is commonplace.
Anais's infatuation with Emilie at first seems equally contrived, not least because Emilie at fifty-six speaks in a sweet voice and bestows girlish glances. But, just when this relationship seems a bit too soft focus, Bourgeois-Tacquet pulls back and produces a moving, profound denouement.