Romantics Anonymous Movie Review
A member of a Romantics Anonymous group, Angelique (Carre) is crippled by her emotional reactions to other people, mainly men. So when she starts to fall for Jean-Rene (Poelvoorde), her new boss at a chocolate company, she doesn't know what to do. This is complicated by the fact that Jean-Rene is even more paralysed by fear than she is, and that she is secretly one of Paris' finest, most legendary chocolatiers. And Jean-Rene's company is in desperate need of something new to boost sales.
The film has a bouncy, comical tone from the start, letting us know that this isn't going to be a stressful ride for us as viewers even as the characters struggle with every encounter they have. The courtship between Angelique and Jean-Rene is both agonisingly awkward and warmly hilarious. Their first date, from Angelique's hiccoughs to Jean-Rene's sweat-drenched shirts, is beautifully played. And it gets better from there, even when a clever variation of the rom-com structure kicks in.
Carre and Poelvoorde give performances that are open-hearted and timed to perfection. The film threatens continually to tip over into silly farce or goofy slapstick, but it keeps its balance, making us care about these people as we feel their internal struggles and also each new discovery. The supporting characters are terrific as well: tiny roles that are integral to the plot and played with bright personality, most notably the four chocolate-makers played by Cravotta, Lametrie, Arlaud and Niney.
It's refreshing to see a small film that doesn't try to be anything more than a warm, witty romance between two normal people. A Hollywood remake would feel bloated and sappy where this is brisk and delicate. It would also be cast with beautiful, younger people who look like movie stars. And while this film is fairly simplistic, it's also an intriguing exploration of crippling emotional shyness that might inspire viewers who are reluctant to take the plunge.
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