Those of you enchanted by the cute title of this film, along with a poster featuring Amelie pixie Audrey Tautou's smiling face beaming out over a lush rose, stop right there. Hang up on Moviefone. Understand something before you shell out $20 for tickets and another $10 for snacks at the movie theater.
Your beloved Audrey is not starring in a sweet romantic comedy this time around.
In fact, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is about as far from a comedy as it gets, a latter-day Fatal Attraction, albeit one with little suspense and a very mean-spirited plot. Sure, with movies like Fat Girl and Time Out, France has gotten about as cynical as it gets, but mowing down a pregnant woman with a scooter and causing her to have a miscarriage -- all while the ultra-cute Tautou smiles at us so innocently -- well, we've got to have some limits, don't we?
If He Loves Me were intended as a black comedy, I'd think differently. But newcomer writer/director Laetitia Colombani just doesn't know what she wants this movie to be. At first, the misdirection part of the idea: Tautou's Angélique is bemoaning the fact that her cardiologist lover, Loïc (Samuel Le Bihan), has forsaken her. He won't leave his wife, he doesn't show up for rendezvous, and pretty soon Angélique is distraught to the point where she turns on the gas and lies down to let it overcome her.
Zoop! The film stops and literally rewinds after 35 minutes, taking us back to the beginning of the film and leading us to believe we're going to see another Run Lola Run, where things will turn out differently for Angélique this time around. But no, instead He Loves Me turns around and tells the story from Loïc's point of view. As it turns out, there is no relationship; he barely knows the girl, merely having given her a ride home one day since she's house-sitting across the street. Unaware that she's having these delusions, Loïc finds the mysterious letters, paintings, and house keys that continually arrive at his home and office to be a frightening nuisance. Since Angélique never approaches him directly, eventually he becomes convinced that a hypochondriac patient is stalking him, with disastrous consequences.
By turning the typical stalker story around and making the guy the victim, Colombani might have been on to something, if Fatal Attraction hadn't already buried this twist 15 years ago. The only new angle she throws us is the fact that our leads have never really met, and the Rashomon-inspired storytelling lightly plays with our expectations of who the bad guy is in this tale. Unfortunately, this backfires from the start, since Angélique is so unhinged she generates little pity, even when the story is told completely from her point of view. She's a maniacal homewrecker who'll stop at nothing to break up a happy family. And we're supposed to root for her because she has a cute haircut? I think not.
Once we've figured out the boundaries of the story, He Loves Me becomes a frightful bore. By the halfway point, the only mystery becomes one of how Angélique has made it this far in life without being institutionalized. How does she hold a job? How does she survive? Though it's less than 100 minutes in length, the film positively crawls. It's enough to make you want to creep into your own little fantasy world. Maybe with a crème brulee.
Aka À la folie... pas du tout.