He Loves Me, He Loves
À la folie… pas du tout
review by Nicholas Schager,
14 February 2003
Audrey Tautou, the enchantingly
impish star of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s
Amélie, must have decided
that the best way to branch out as an actress was to go psycho. In
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, Tautou plays Angélique, a
gifted student painter head-over-heels in love with her cardiologist
boyfriend Loïc (Samuel Le Bihan). Angélique is housesitting for a
family in Bordeaux, and the darling city – a vibrant, picturesque
wonderland of wine and roses – reflects the exhilaration of her
charmed life. Her only problem in the world is the annoying fact
that Loïc is married, and his wife is expecting their first child.
But despite the warnings of her friend (and secret admirer) David (Clément
Sibony), Angélique remains steadfast in the belief that Loïc will
soon leave his old ball-and-chain for a life with
This, however, is no simply
romance. Director Laetitia Colombani’s supposedly cheery film makes
an abrupt shift at its midpoint, devolving into a Fatal
Attraction-style portrait of female obsession; the film – which
spends the first forty minutes showing us life through Angélique’s
eyes – rewinds and begins again, this time showing us the same
events from Loïc’s very different vantage
point. It turns out that Angélique barely knows the strappingly
handsome if somewhat milquetoast doctor, and the scenes we’ve
previously witnessed of the two enjoying one another’s company are
nothing but the distorted projections of her severely warped mind.
Once this tired narrative device has reared its ugly head, what
we’re left with is a predictable tale of infatuation run amok.
Tautou, channeling Glen
Close but coming up with little more than Amélie with a vacant
stare, apparently wants to distance herself from the wholesome,
playful image she’s now associated with. Unfortunately, the results
are about as convincing as casting Doris Day as the Angel of Death.
Tautou is given increasingly bizarre stalker affectations – first
she sends Loïc a rose and a note, then a painting of himself, and
finally a human heart with an arrow through it – but those enormous
doe eyes and irresistible dimples sabotage her attempts at real
disregarding the film’s latent misogyny – which, like many cinematic
tales of love gone awry, portrays deranged affection as a distinctly
female malady – He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is very little
fun, and, even at ninety minutes, is easily thirty minutes too long.
Much of that unnecessary time is spent with Le Bihan’s Loïc,
who, decked out in plain suits and spectacles that fail to convince
one of his intellect, is burdened by a reaction-only role that
simply requires him to look anxious and frightened. That the payoff
for our patience is a numb-skulled explanatory finale that, in a
Psycho-inspired touch, provides a pat clinical explanation for
Tautou’s disturbed behavior, merely exposes the film’s considerable
lack of imagination.
has stated that her inspiration for the film was The Sixth Sense,
whose surprise ending forced viewers to reassess the validity of
everything that had preceded it. But by giving us the twist mid-way
through the film and then taking deliberate steps to show us how our
initial assumptions were wrong, the film is like a mildly clever
joke ruined by the ensuing explanation of why it’s funny.
Samuel Le Bihan
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult