Les Émotifs anonymes (2010)
aka: Romantics Anonymous
A film directed by Jean-Pierre Améris

Genre: Comedy / Romance

Film Review

Les Émotifs anonymes photo
Definitely one of the sweetest French romantic comedies of 2010. A light, fluffy confection that plucks all the right emotional chords, Les Émotifs anonymes is the kind of film you can watch between Hollywood blockbusters without ruining your appetite. Himself a victim of chronic shyness, director Jean-Pierre Améris deals sensitively and humorously with a condition that is more widespread than you might think, and uses it to provide the basis for a feel-good rom-com of exceptional charm. As in C'est la vie (2001), a light-hearted comedy-drama about terminal illness, Améris takes a potentially difficult subject and delivers an engaging film that is both true to life and irresistibly amusing, with a whiff of the old-fashioned fairytale about it.

Benoît Poelvoorde and Isabelle Carré are supremely well cast as the film's two emotionally challenged lead protagonists - both have a natural air of Dresden china fragility which compels the spectator to sympathise with rather than sneer at their protagonists' crippling condition. (Neither character can say so much as a stifled 'hello' without breaking into a cold sweat and looking like someone about to face a firing squad.)  Poelvoorde and Carré had previously appeared together in an altogether different kind of romantic set-up, Anne Fontaine's unsettling thriller Entre ses mains (2005), and as on that film they complement one another perfectly, devastatingly convincing as solitary souls drawn to one another by the unspoken mysteries of love and a shared guilty pleasure.

Visually, Les Émotifs anonymes looks disturbingly like the interior of a Belgian chocolate shop from the 1950s - too pretty to be real and yet strangely alluring in a way that is both heart-warming and ever so slightly sinister. The cutely kitsch design certainly matches the film's sugary subject matter but it also emphasises the main characters' distorted view of the world and their obsession with that most seductively sensual of confectionary products. For Jean-René and Angélique, chocolate is far more than an appetite quencher, it is a magical elixir which provides comfort and allows them to cope with their emotional handicap. So why should they not see the world through cocoa-tinted glasses?  It is true that a surfeit of sugary confectionary can sometimes make you violently sick, but this is definitely not the case here. Les Émotifs anonymes is a cinema gourmet's delight, a tender, idiosyncratic little comedy that is tastier than a fondant fancy, more delicate than a Cadbury's Flake, and infinitely better for your waistline.
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Angélique has a passion and an instinct for the art of chocolate making that is virtually unrivalled...
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Film Credits

Directed by Jean-Pierre Améris
Starring: Benoît Poelvoorde, Isabelle Carré, Lorella Cravotta, Lise Lamétrie, Swann Arlaud
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