Like the rest of the world I became totally
enchanted by Audrey Tatou after seeing her in Amelie, and
followed her career with interest over the next several years to see
whether sheíd turn out another performance with anything approaching the
same gamine, effortlessly fey magic.
The answer was: sort of, but not really.
There was Dirty Pretty Things (2002), a well-received
denunciation of the exploitation of illegal immigrants, the so-so
Spanish Apartment released the same year, the follow up from
Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the aptly titled A Very Long
Engagement (2004) and Tatouís 2006 headlong foray into Hollywoodland
The Da Vinci Code, in which the actress spent the majority of her
time furrowing her dainty brow and having things explained to her by the
ever so wise Professor Langdon.
In my always humble opinion her best film
since the once-in-a-lifetime Amelie was 2006s Priceless,
known in its native land as Hors de Prix, in which the Gallic
beauty portrays a vapid gold digger who sleeps with a succession of
married men in order to fund her luxury lifestyle. Written and directed
by Pierre Salvadori, the film was a charming, frolicsome and frequently
hilarious take on love and materialism, a quintessentially European film
that that displayed a level of innocence and whimsy many American
directors and their earnestly handsome stars could only dream about.
Salvadori and Tatou have once more joined
forces, this time for the comedy Beautiful Lies, which was
released in 2010 and has recently been brought to local shores by the
thoughtful folks at Transmission. Itís a worthwhile if occasionally
derivative entry into their burgeoning canon, in which the Ďromantic
comedy of errorsí sub-genre so ably exploited by the French is once more
mined to considerable effect.
Tatou stars as Emile, a vivacious hair
salon owner who one day receives a passionate but anonymous love letter
from her shy, thoroughly smitten employee Jean. Unimpressed she tosses
the letter in the bin (in Jeanís presence, no less) but the letterís
fulsome poetry gives her an idea for cheering up her lovelorn mother,
who is still devastated at being left years earlier for a far younger
woman. Copying the letter verbatim she slips it in her motherís mailbox
and even enlists Jeanís reluctant help in maintaining the subterfuge.
This being a Gallic romp, however, things quickly start getting
complicated, and a bizarre love triangle of sorts develops.
Beautiful Lies isnít perhaps
quite as beguiling as some of Tatouís former efforts, but it is a
smart and breezily enjoyable film nonetheless. Tatou and her co-star
Sami Bouajila make a believable on-screen couple and play impeccably off
one another as the storyline progresses, and Nathalie Baye is likewise
perfectly cast as the alternately morose and sultry older woman
desperately in need of some loviní. Films propelled by romantic
misunderstandings might be considered somewhat formulaic at this point,
but when the formula is this much fun, who really cares?
Non, rien de rien.