Pas Sur La Bouche aka Not On The Lips (2003) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Sabine Azema, Isabelle Nanty, Audrey Tautou, Pierre Arditi, Darry Cowl, Jalil Lespert

Director: Alain Resnais

The film is a total mixture. It’s a period piece set in Paris in the 1920’s. It’s a French musical subtitled in English throughout. It’s a romantic comedy where a love triangle develops between a society wife and her current husband, ex-husband and a young suitor/bachelor that wants to seduce her.

PAS SUR LA BOUCHE explores the French love affair with infidelity between the couple Gilberte (Sabine Azema) and Georges Valandray (Pierre Arditi). The husband, a wealthy metallurgist, has a very precise and blinkered view on why his wife will stay faithful to him and not stray – that is that providing he is his wife’s first and only husband the marriage will work.

Knowing Georges viewpoint on marital harmony imagine Gilberte’s horror when she discovers that her husband is about to pull off the biggest deal of his life with an American industrialist who just happens to be her ex-husband Eric Thomson (Lambert Wilson). Add to this the attentions she’s receiving from an ardent, young, prospective lover, Charley (Jalil Lespert), whom she indulges herself with by teasing him.

So the scene is set and develops interestingly as Gilberte’s sister Arlette (Isabelle Nanty) – the only other person to know about Gilberte’s secret first marriage – plays the old maid and enters the mix along with Huguette Verberie (Audrey Tautou) who confides in Arlette that she’s fallen for Charley.

The film is amusing in places but some of this is lost when the viewer is not only reading subtitles frantically but the lines are also being sung in a 1920’s chant. This all detracts from the acting going onscreen so it’s a good job the plot is not complex and becomes taxing at times especially as the film is 117 minutes long – it takes some endurance.

The ensemble cast however all give more than adequate performances and they’re all accomplished singers. Audrey Tautou adds a welcome sparkle and together with Sabine Azema this helps to carry the film through to it’s closing climax of who ends up with whom. The film has also been filmed just like a stage production with the costumes and sets well done in a classic 1920’s style.

If you’re into French period love farces set to music then this is for you but for the rest of you it will probably not pique your interest sufficiently.

2 out of 6 stars