out of Five
Running time: 76
Ridiculously charming and almost too sweet for its own good, this is an enjoyable French romcom (or Fromcom) with a witty script and delightful performances from Poelvoorde and Carre, though it's also a little on the slight side.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Jean-Pierre Ameris, Romantics Anonymous (or Les Emotifs Anonymes, original title fans – the title actually refers to the emotionally challenged, which makes more sense in context) stars Isabelle Carre as Angelique, a gifted chocolatier who attends the titular support group because she's so painfully shy that she passes out when directly questioned by men. When she gets a job at a chocolate company she's rather surprised to be almost immediately asked out by her boss, Jean-Rene (Benoit Poelvoorde), who is equally shy and who has been advised by his therapist (Stephan Wojtowicz) to take the plunge and ask someone to dinner.
As if Angelique and Jean-Rene's emotionally challenged attempts at romance weren't tricky enough, it also transpires that the chocolate company is in trouble and needs to improve its product in order to stay afloat. However, Angelique has kept her talent hidden because she faints when questioned about it, so she devises an elaborate ploy in order to save the factory and keep her secret from Jean-Rene.
Poelvoorde and Carre are both delightful as the two “emotifs”, generating a genuinely sweet chemistry in their scenes together – as one of the supporting characters remarks, you can tell immediately that they're meant for each other. There's also strong support from Wojtowicz and the actors who make up both Angelique's support group and Jean-Rene's loyal employees.
Ameris displays some impressive comic timing and orchestrates several enjoyable scenes, the highlight of which is a date where Jean-Rene continually runs off to change his sweat-drenched shirt (fortunately he's brought an entire briefcase full and has stashed them in the restaurant bathroom). He also throws in a lovely sequence where Angelique bursts into song as she walks down the street (a nod to Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg), though this backfires slightly as it leaves you expecting further similar sequences and they never appear.
The main problem with the film is that the script is a little too slight, while the obstacles preventing the pair getting together never seem like much of a problem – indeed, Angelique doesn't even faint around Jean-Rene.
Romantics Anonymous is a charming confection with likeable characters, a witty script and strong comic performances from its two leads, but the slim-line plot ensures it's not quite the treat it should have been.
Romantics Anonymous (12A)