BACKTALK

Film

A fine French vintage

Brian D. Johnson April 11 2005
BACKTALK

Film

A fine French vintage

Brian D. Johnson April 11 2005

Film

A fine French vintage

No one makes a comedy of manners with the finesse of the French-at least when they get it right. Look at Me (Comme Une Image) gets it wonderfully right. This exceptional film bears a passing resemblance to Sideways. Set against the publishing scene, it’s an ensemble piece that focuses on a quartet of characters whose lives are a tangle of art and ego, celebrity and insecurity. But with a more refined wit, and nuanced characters, Look at Me is as superior to Sideways as a fine French bordeaux is to a jammy bottle of California cabernet.

Lolita (Marilou Berry), a plump 20-year-old, is an aspiring singer of baroque music who’s desperate for approval from her acerbic, selfabsorbed father, Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri)-a famous novelist with a girlfriend half his age. Bacri co-wrote the film with his wife, actordirector Agnès Jaoui, who plays Sylvia, Lolita’s vocal coach. Sylvia is married to a struggling novelist, Pierre (Laurent Grevill), who displays an aggressive lack of self-esteem. The script, which won a prize in Cannes, is a gem of sharp, natural dialogue suffused by a devastating wit. And Jaoui directs with a knowing eye that’s at once caustic and compassionate. This is the kind of movie we keep wishing Woody Allen would make-if only he were a smart, observant French woman rather than a New York neurotic chasing his tail. Look at Me is a must-see.

BRIAN D. JOHNSON