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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Marilou Berry, Agnes Jaoui, Laurent Grevill, Jean-Pierre Bacri
Director: Agnes Jaoui

Lolita (Marilou Berry) is a young, fat, twenty something year-old French girl. Were it not for her famous publisher/writer father she would be just another anonymous face. She is also a passionate singer but her insecurities about her weight, her sarcastic almost emotionless father and his new skinny also twenty something wife put her in a constant state of distress. Lolita finds it very hard to make friends as whenever she meets someone they treat her indifferently until they discover that she is the daughter of the famous writer, Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri).

All this changes when she takes pity on a young drunk man Sebastian (Gregoire Oestermann) she finds on the street and covers him up with her coat. Soon after this incident the young man calls her and asks her out for a coffee to return the coat and to thank her for her sympathy. Sebastian tries to get closer to the temperamental Lolita who as usual assumes that he is just after meeting her father especially since he is also a writer. Lolita’s music teacher Sylvia (Agnes Jaoui) equally treats her differently once she discovers that her favourite writer is Lolita’s father. Sylvia’s partner is also a writer and his recently released novel prompts Etienne to meet with him leading to a weekend out in the country where everybody’s true colours finally come to light and Lolita finally lets her inner beauty shine through with the power of song.

Lolita as portrayed by the stage trained Marilou Berry is a young woman whose outer looks portray what most of the world considers to be fat and unattractive but whose inner spirit is actually one of kindness as highlighted by the scene in which she assists a complete stranger and whose voice projects beauty at it’s most natural.

Jean-Pierre Bacri is fantastic here as the cynical, famous writer/publisher who feels that he must always be in control and disregards his eldest daughter as being his “big girl” and nothing more. From the opening scene in which he effectively reprimands a rude taxi driver Jean-Pierre projects the cold selfish nature of his character Etienne perfectly. The supporting cast all complement the film perfectly with each character having a true reason to be in the story.

Direction from Agnes Jaoui, who also acts in the film, is spot on as she manages to weave the happiness and sadness found in everyday life to produce a cocktail of laughs and drama. A very well done family comedy/drama that explores the themes of the abuse of power and how it affects the abuser and the target of abuse, but ultimately still claims everyone as victims. A carefully chosen selection of music complements the film ranging from Tupac Shakur quietly piping away in the background to Mozart and Handel.

3 out of 6 stars