Beautiful Lies (De vrais mensonges) [Film]
“Farce” is a word that I hear a lot in modern political debate, usually wielded by our esteemed journalists and politicians against things they don’t like.
Interestingly, the word actually refers to a specific type of comedy. From Wikipedia:
“In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases, culminating in an ending which often involves an elaborate chase scene.”
The common factor in a lot of good farces is the way misunderstandings multiply to contrive truly ridiculous comic situations.
Beautiful Lies is classic farce. Jean wants Emilie; he writes her an anonymous love letter. Emilie wants to cheer up her (depressed, single) mum, so she secretly drops the letter into her mother’s mailbox. This sets off a string of truly spectacular misunderstandings that had the audience laughing and groaning through much of the film. It is a cleverly-constructed plot, and perhaps due to this complexity it’s pretty slow to get moving, and doesn’t give the best first impression. However, once things are on track the crazy situations that emerge really are very funny. I was pleased that this film stood so well on the merits of its script – it never needs to play up the ‘look at us, we’re French’ schtick to be interesting, nor did it conform too much to the romcom formula. Philistine does love the cliché-avoidance.
Audrey Tautou (‘Emilie’, interesting choice of name) is a good casting choice – she’s convincing as a pushy, impulsive hairdresser and the perfect pick to drive a plot full of improbable twists. Sami Bouajila plays the lovestruck handyman who sends the original love letter, and as the victim in most scenes he shows a rich spectrum of baffled expressions. Given the need for subtitles in this film, the acting merits of the cast go a long way to helping the comedy translate.
Beautiful Lies is very feelgood material – things are sometimes a little sad and sometimes quite romantic but most scenes are light and fun. Comparisons to Amelie are inevitable, but I’ll leave it to you to make your verdict on this point. Call your sexiest friend and take them on a date to see this; things can only go well. If you already have a sexy friend that you are comfortable with, you might get a bit more depth out of The Trip, but Beautiful Lies has a similar ‘light, fun, easy’ feel and either’s going to be a good night out.