Beautiful Lies, 2010.
Directed by Pierre Salvadori.
Starring Audrey Tautou, Nathalie Baye and Sami Bouajila.
Audrey Tautou stars in this witty French comedy about love and lies. Tautou’s character Émilie Dandrieux receives a passionate love letter from a secret admirer who is also her fellow co-worker at her hair salon, she then copies the amorous letter and sends it anonymously to her lonesome Mother. Trouble brews when Emilie’s disillusioned Mother Maddy thinks that she has discovered who her fictitious Casanova is.
This film is largely owed to a fantastic intelligent script which includes slightly dry, yet extremely sharp humour, and the way the storyline develops as Emilie descends into chaos, adds to the comedic value.
I was however, slightly baffled by the seemingly conscious parallels to the infamous Amelie (2001). The most obvious similarity is that Audrey Tautou is famed for her role as the adorable Amelie. I find it very peculiar that the makers of Beautiful Lies decided to call Tautou’s character an undeniably similar name. Further similarities lie in the plot lines as both films are based around their protagonists setting out to improve the lives of others in whimsically romantic, French ways.
I presume this was done for promotion’s sake as the indisputable similarities lead critics to compare the two. I felt that the parallels were off-putting and it did not allow me to get fully involved in the story, as I found myself constantly comparing the two films. I also found it a rather cheap and tasteless way of advertising the feature.
Despite these similarities, Tautou’s character Emilie had many opposite traits to those of kind-hearted Amelie. Emile is actually quite unlikable at first as she is very cruel to her Mother and admirer Jean. This proved to be quite refreshing in comparison to the typical perfect, lovable female lead roles. This arguably made Emilie more realistic and relatable. Towards the end of the feature Emilie comes to terms with her mistakes and throughout she is a delight to watch as she emits the unmistakable Tautou charm.
Credit is also due to Tautou’s co-star Sami Bouajila who plays the lovable Jean and manages to successfully depict a slightly stalker-like character without being in any way sleazy. Shy Jean makes the audiences’ hearts bleed as he covertly adores Emilie from afar.
Overall Beautiful Lies is everything you could want from a French rom-com with themes of unrequited love, passion, prose and Audrey Tautou; Beautiful Lies oozes quaint French charm.