Beautiful Lies (De Vrais Mensonges) (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/08/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Watchable French romcom (or Fromcom) that doesn't quite pull off the magic of either Priceless or Heartrbeaker but succeeds thanks to an amusing script and winning performances from its three leads.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Pierre Salvadori (Priceless), Beautiful Lies (De Vrais Mensonges, original title fans) is set in a French seaside town and stars Audrey Tautou as Emilie, the self-centred owner of a hairdressing salon. When she receives an anonymous love-letter, she forwards it to her depressed, recently dumped mother Maddy (Nathalie Baye), in the hope of cheering her up before having to tell her that her father is getting remarried to a much younger woman.

Unbeknownst to Emilie, the letter is from her Arab handyman Jean (Sami Bouajila) and when she finds out that he's actually a UN translator who speaks five languages (and is only taking a break as a handyman after a nervous breakdown), she immediately fires him thanks to a sort of compulsive inferiority complex. However, things quickly get more complicated when – still unaware that he wrote the original letter – Emilie asks Jean to pretend to be the author of the love-letter and to romance her mother.

The Good
Audrey Tautou is superb as Emilie, playing her as a realistically flawed, occasionally awkward character rather than the traditionally perfect romcom heroine you might expect. There's also terrific support from Nathalie Baye (clearly enjoying herself as the sex-mad older woman), while Boujila does good work in a potentially difficult role as Jean.

Salvadori maintains a decent pace throughout and there are several strong visual gags, including a few wince-inducing hair-salon-based disasters. Similarly, as with Priceless, a number of the jokes rely solely on the heightened expressions on the characters' faces, suggesting that Salvadori is something of a devotee of silent cinema.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that it doesn't quite get the romcom formula right, since we spend the whole film waiting for Emilie to play catch-up; the focus (as with The Shop Around The Corner, an obvious influence) ought to be on Boujali's character, but we never really get a sense of the depth of his feelings for Emilie, or even what he sees in her in the first place. In fact, Emilie's unlikability is taken slightly too far and we only really like her because Tautou herself is so damn adorable.

Worth seeing?
As Fromcoms go, Beautiful Lies is isn't quite up there with the likes of Heartbreaker or Priceless, but it's not without its Gallic charms and is ultimately worth watching for strong comic performances from the three leads.

Film Trailer

Beautiful Lies (De Vrais Mensonges) (12A)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 17:56

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