Look at Me (2004)


Look at Me (2004) Review

Maybe in Europe, whining is looked upon as an art form. Three years ago, the Italian movie The Last Kiss -- a precursor to Garden State -- was released in the U.S. It bitched and moaned its way to rave reviews, a few festival prizes, and a soon-to-be released American adaptation (starring, yes, Zach Braff and Rachel Bilson), all the while driving me bonkers.

Now, from France, we have Look at Me, another movie lavished with praise that plays like an extra special, extra whiny, extra long episode of thirtysomething. The characters in Look at Me bitch so much about their troubles that you wonder how they're able to get through the day. You care that they find happiness not out of any sympathy for them, but so there's finally silence.

There are many characters in the middle of this epic moaning, but the central character is Lolita (Marilou Berry), a plump teen who, when not crying over her love life or her father's disregard for anything she does, showcases her exceptional singing voice. Her father, Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is an acclaimed author and publisher, in addition to being a raging egomaniac who feeds on ridiculing Lolita and his young wife. Lola's voice teacher, Sylvia (Agnès Jaoui, who also directed and co-wrote the script with Bacri), idolizes Lola's father, while her husband, Pierre, (Laurent Grévill) becomes a celebrity with his new book, eventually working his way into Etienne's inner circle and isolating Sylvia and his old acquaintances.

The characters all have issues before their lives intersect, and those problems fester afterwards, just not in a way that builds drama. In Look at Me, no one complains to the person causing the problem. Lolita cries about her father's callous ways to everyone but him; Sylvia complains about Pierre's growing ego, but not to Pierre. Etienne, who Bacri plays with contemptuous relish (he has the movie's best lines), shows his disdain in a multitude of ways -- backhanded comments, outright derision, sarcastic comments. It's too much to handle. These people make the cast of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? look content by comparison.

There's not one relatable character here because these petulant brats blurt every emotion, and everyone has such a collection of personal problems that it's hard to determine whatever message director Jaoui is trying to express, which judging from message boards I've seen, is either how selfishness can ruin relationships or that it's "a cultural swipe at Hollywood." The only thing I picked up from Look at Me is what it must be like to be on a two-hour car trip with different people taking turns complaining every 20 minutes. That does not make for a tolerable, never mind enlightening, movie.

Aka Comme une image.

Just don't get your finger caught in there.

Facts and Figures


Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Cast & Crew


Producer: , Christian Bérard