Old Stuff

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (À la Folie... Pas du Tout, 2002)

Directed by Laetitia Columbani

If you like your valentines laced with acid, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" is for you. The film opens with Angelique (Audrey Tatou) sending Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), the heart surgeon she loves, a single rose as an expression of her feelings. She talks about him constantly with her friends and co-workers, sends him love notes and a painting. She meets him at a party where she ogles him with adoring eyes before he drives her home, for the most part, the first half of "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" is a snore. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but it does feel slightly off kilter. Then just when you feel like you've seen enough, the story takes a dramatic turn. Moments that seemed silly and frivolous become more ominous in hindsight.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Writer/director Laetitia Colombani shifts gears. The after effects of Angelique's actions on Loic's life are revealed in parallel time. What at first seemed off kilter goes off the deep end. Angelique's innocent flirtations and oddball behavior that at first seemed quaint are seen as symptoms of a pathology. "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" turns into a thriller with the figurative toss of a coin.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

"He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" has a third act that won't be explored here. The only hints as to what goes on in the characters' minds or what they are feeling is the subjective use of color schemes and camera work. The first part of the film is composed of bright colors to complement Angelique's cheery outlook. As it disintegrates, so does the dreamy quality of the images until, by film's end, the movie has a harder edged look.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

This subjective use of style, split points of view and spatial relationships has been used to great effect in some other classic movies, particularly "Hilary and Jackie" from 1998. Events in the lives of Hilary and Jacqueline du Pres are seen from each sister's point of view in two distinct halves that show how memory is biased by one's individual perceptions. As Loic finds out in "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not," it's when the memory of reality and fantasy become intertwined that things can get messy. -- Rating: $6.50

A recent hit with Audrey Tautou

Amelie (2001) (Fr. with Eng. subtitles) - Tautou is delightful as a waif who comes out of her shell upon the death of Princess Diana. Her Amelie dreams up ways to help people while musing about sex, love, and happiness amidst set pieces of people locked in conjugal bliss bouncing to the jaunty rhythms of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's own imagining. Her obsession over the minute details of pictures taken at a photo booth puts her on the trail of a mysterious young man with some oddball jobs who might turn out to be the man of her dreams.

A recent hit with Samuel Le Bihan

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002) - Samuel Le Bihan is a mysterious stranger, a naturist by trade, with an Iroquois Indian for a sidekick. They are hired by the King in 18th Century France to find a beast terrorizing countryside in the outer reaches of his kingdom. Like Sherlock Holmes and his trusty Dr. Watson in "Hound of the Baskervilles," they plumb every nook, cranny, and cave gathering clues to find the source of the attacks. The sidekick relies on some good old ancestral American Indian mysticism and martial arts (Yes! Martial Arts!) to survive in hostile territory, while our hero finds himself a brothel of spies and Monica Belluci to supply some softcore fantasy. Seeing Le Bihan in this provides a good contrast to his Loic in "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not."

Several other movies with different points of view

Divorce His, Divorce Hers(1973) - Actually a TV movie shot as two movies with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor that looks at their characters' divorce from each one's point of view.

Gambit (1966) - Actually a heist movie with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine.

The first half details a precision robbery as it is supposed to happen. I won't tell you about the second half, but like "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not," the second half helps explain what is really going on in the first half. Fun Movie!

P.S. -- What is erotomania? Look it up after you see "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not." Then see "With a Friend Like Harry" (2001) with its casual drift toward melodrama. Sophie Guillemin has a featured role in both. Harry is a good companion piece to Laetitia Colombani's movie.

Greg Murray -- copyright 2003

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