The thing with character-based movies is that they are dangerously close to sitcoms. A man goes through foibles, we invest ourselves because he is charming, we laugh, we cry, we trust.
I’m usually not a fan, but I really have an admiration for the French, as people.
They have been beating the horse of pretense for so long that there is no way you can take their intelligence seriously. Which is a good thing because serious things should never be taken seriously.
For my part, I have ingested so much French culture in terms of literature and philosophy that I now find all of it disposable. Some of it is necessary, but I would never consider living through their souls, for something more serious, and mystical, I go see the Germans.
So when you watch this, I hope you can detect the irony. It is essentially French. It is an art, albeit a minor one. It works in the following way: it references intelligent or profound things but they are lost in a cloud of…smoke; lightweight ideas, about ideas, almost always awkward.
Take a look at some of the opening scenes where we’re tricked into entering deeper levels (the story of the child writing his autobiography before he can write a fictional story of his life), only to drift back into the character’s self-examination (we never see the shrink).
Please see this as a joke. It is funny.
The other thing I will commend this for is its dialog. Part of the pleasure in loving is coming up with poems to reflect it. Here, everything is explained through a filter of verbal overdramatization. Loving is a struggle to assert yourself as eloquently as possible to the point where it matters little whether you love or not but rather how poetically you can explain it.
As an added bonus, we have an Altman-like dance of episodes. It shoots in varied directions, it is uneven, but it is delicate, caring, and non-judgemental.
This is good. It’s like an uncompleted thesis, youthful, wild, rambling, ecstatic.