Beautiful Lies

Movie review by Neil Sadler

Starring: Audrey Tautou, Nathalie Baye, Sami Bouajila, Judith Chemla, Stephanie Lagarde
Director: Pierre Salvadori

BEAUTIFUL LIES tells the story of Emilie (Audrey Tautou) and her mother Maddy. Recently divorced from her sculptor husband, Maddy is in the pit of depression and so when Emilie receives an anonymous love letter, she immediately rewrites it and forwards it to her mother to boost her confidence. What she doesn’t realize is that the letter was from her handyman, who has been in love with her. As the lies become larger, will Emilie lose her own chance of happiness, simply to keep her mother from finding out the truth?

There is little doubt that the makers of this film hoped that Audrey Tautou would recreate the magical touch that she employed with AMELIE. This film even seems to be referenced in the poster and elements of the plot. Even the names are similar. But where Amelie was an innocent and the film full of quirky absurdities, BEAUTIFUL LIES is crippled by ordinariness and general unlikeability of its main character. Emilie isn’t a particularly likeable person and doesn’t treat those around her with the good natured optimism of Amelie and so when things go wrong for her and she turns to drink and pessimism, it is hard to think anything but “so what!”

But though this is an absurd film in many ways, it is just about saved through the charm of its leads. It is very hard to completely dislike Audrey Tautou despite her best efforts and Sami Bouajila as the beaten down handyman and secret admirer of her hairdresser, Emilie has the right amount of optimism and charm to just about be believable. He seems at times more like a pet than a supposedly intelligent man and you could argue that there is no chemistry between them but their finale reconciliation is genuinely touching.

There is very little here that you haven’t seen before. It isn’t staggeringly original or outrageously funny. But it doesn’t weave too complex a plot and become too convoluted, a mistake many romantic comedies make.

Ultimately this is one of those foreign language films that just aren’t special enough to break out into the mainstream.

3 out of 6 stars

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