Director Pierre Salvadori reteams up with Audrey Tautou to create a tangled web of lies, which escalate into surprisingly hilarious consequences in this quirky French RomCom.
Can a lie ever be considered ‘beautiful’? Even if there are good intentions involved, there’s one fundamental problem with telling a lie: one lie always leads to more. This quirky French film actively confronts and plays with the boundaries between good intent and deep regret, that lies produce. Teaming up with director Pierre Salvadori for the second time since Priceless in 2006, Audrey Tautou of The Da Vinci Code fame, sees herself playing another outspoken female, as Émilie.
Audrey Tautau is known to take leading roles in her stride; however, in contrast to her strong female portrayals in Coco avant Chanel and Amélie, Émilie is a far cry from being considered a “heroine”. Émilie meddles with others’ lives only to cause herself the most pain.
Émilie is a confused individual caught up between her obligations to her parents, making ends meet in her salon, and her non-existent love life. In order to save her mother, Maddy, from the depression of her impending divorce from her husband (who has impregnated a twenty year old), Émilie copies an anonymous love-letter sent to herself, and sends it to Maddy, with the hope of revitalizing her spirits.
However, although the effects of this love-letter prove positive on Maddy, one lie, soon multiplies into several, as Émilie is forced to compose more letters in order to maintain her mother’s happiness. But complications arise with the discovery that the original letter was written by Jean (cue haplessly charming, Sami Bouajila), a Harvard graduate who after being fired from his job as a translator, now works at Émilie’s salon as a handyman. Predictably, Jean falls helplessly in love with Émilie but is unable to reveal it and therefore resorts to anonymous written declarations.
Émilie regurgitates his letter and forges a series of more, slowly weaving a tangled web of lies, which makes for a whirlwind of non-stop events, eventually culminating in an intrinsically crafted love triangle between Émilie, Jean, and rather awkwardly, her mother. The result is surprisingly humorous and weirdly addictive. The writing is full of wit and manages to transcend across the translated subtitles. The film’s only downfall is the ending, which is undeniably predictable and feels sourly rushed, but as with most RomComs, the endings are never expected as a strongpoint, yet as RomComs go, this one does possess a certain flair. Audrey Tautou’s performance is the film’s saving grace, and equally impressive is Nathalie Baye’s highly comic performance as Maddy.
If you’re looking for something different to view at your regular cinema, ‘Beautiful Lies’ is a welcome variation on a familiar concept. Sure, it’s not a masterpiece, but it sure is a nice time-pass, a perfect light-hearted escape from a chaotic London day.
Originally featured on http://www.thewhatwherewhen.org/