Arnaud Viard has written and directed a quintessentially French love story that simply has everything going for it. The dialogue is richly imbued with both light hearted comedic elements as well as radiant moments of verismo that make this little story one that, once seen, will be indelible in the memory of the viewer. This is a love story awash with all of the nuances of contemporary life in Paris - and in the entire world.
Antoine (Julien Boisselier) is a thirty-three year old actor, having given up his business career to pursue his dream, yet a young man without a partner. Serendipity strikes on the Metro as Antoine sees a shy woman his age Clara (Julie Gayet) and from the silence surrounding their exchanged looks it is obvious something will happen. Antoine demurely writes a note on his pad and without speaking shows it to Clara. Clara responds with a written message, and the game ends with Clara giving Antoine her telephone number! At a surprise birthday party that evening Antoine, though happy with his close friends' display of love for him, thinks only of the beautiful Clara and that he calls her. They begin a sweet and musical romance, literally singing and dancing along the Seine: they fall in love. Feeling commitment coming, the two decide to be tested for HIV (contemporary sanity is still part of the picture) and Clara discovers she is HIV positive. Antoine cannot deal with this fact and decides they cannot go on. A trip home for Antoine gives him the input from his surgeon father (Michel Aumont) and this meaningful communication between father and son reinforces the fact that despite all circumstances, he truly and deeply loves Clara. He returns to Paris to ask Clara's forgiveness, to reconcile - but life is as it is and the film's ending will touch the hearts of even the coldest of viewers.
This is an honest recounting of the magic of being in love and living in the world in which we find ourselves. The supporting cast is outstanding with every minor role played with honesty and simplicity. But it is the sheer magic on the parts of the leads that makes this film miraculous. Julie Gayet is not only incredibly beautiful, she is also am extraordinary actress, taking us with her through every subtle change in her journey. And the same can be said for Julien Boisselier - handsome in the French manner, with a face so plastic that every particle of emotion he tries so desperately to conceal is given to us, intensifying his performance and making us feel his joys and his wounds.
Arnaud Viard is a chemist with words and with silences, a conjuror who knows just how much to say and ask of his actors to give us a film that is perfect in every detail. The magnificent music score is by Benjamin Biolay with assistance from Bertrand Burgalat and Franz Schubert (`Fantasia for piano four hands'). Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, June 06