This charming French romance runs the full gamut of genuinely portrayed emotion, from devastating loss and grief to heartwarming joy and hope. Audrey Tautou plays the beautiful and waifish Nathalie, a woman blissfully married to her soulmate until an accident takes his life. Three years on, and Nathalie is now a workaholic executive at a Paris-based Swedish company. One day while caught in a daydream, Nathalie passionately kisses seriously tall and offish (with a closet of the finest Bill Cosby jumpers) employee Markus, who is instantly besotted with the woman. The two form a friendship that slowly but surely provides the other with what they are missing and craving in their lives: companionship. When their relationship blossoms into a quiet romance it stuns their co-workers, friends and family due solely to their aesthetic differences, a fact neither seems to notice.
Audrey Tautou and Francois Damiens navigate their characters carefully in this often over-the-top world. The film lends itself to elements of fantasy and whimsy, elements that are overlooked by the actors as they portray their characters with true respect, making them endlessly endearing. One can’t help but fall in love with Damiens’ Markus - the comedic actor takes a shining turn is this film, while the slightly typecast Tautou - always displaying her talents - is definitely upstaged by the Belgian.
The tone of the film is a bit messy, bouncing around from one to another on the directors’ whim rather than being consistent and cohesive to the story, but never to the extreme. With the flights of fancy coming and going, the film eventually settles for a more serious tone, choosing to shift its focus to the social ramifications of an “Audrey Tautou” falling for “Francois Damiens”, the cruel and unfortunate fact of life - people are often superficial and they judge. As well, the out-of-the-blue “kiss” is the bizarre catalyst or “MacGuffin” for the film's narrative. While such a device would be open to ridicule under any other circumstances, the nature of this film combined with Tautou’s pretty face and Damiens’ dough eyes makes it work and is met with smiles and hope for the hopeless romantic side of a willing audience.
This film doesn’t make any cinematic milestones, but it is a delightful slice of romantic life to quench even the slightest of thirsts. Be enamoured with this second-chance look at love and happiness.
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