Anais in love – now on VOD – is a deeply French film about a free spirit who weaves his way freely through life, to her delight and our conflicting feelings about it. It’s the debut film from writer-director Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, who puts us in the whirlwind orbit of her protagonist and sits back and watches as we land in Amusedville, Frustrationton or Living Vicariously City. Your mileage may vary.
The essentials: Anais (Anais Demoustier) runs down the street with a bouquet of flowers. She is late. Get used to it – that’s how she lives her life. Your landlady is waiting; She wants to install a smoke detector in Anais’ apartment and try to refuse her two months’ rent. Anais tells her she is behind on her payments because her boyfriend moved out, although they are not separated, and somehow distracts the increasingly confused landlady from the problem by asking lots of random questions and random observations about love and relationships does that kind of stuff, and the stove is very old, so it’s good that she’s getting a smoke detector. She later rides her bike to a friend’s party and ends up throwing away the bouquet because they’re all broken and being claustrophobic, so she asks a kind older man who’s also attending the party to carry her bike to the elevator while she takes the stairs . Your bike lock has been stolen, and isn’t it strange that someone steals the lock and not the bike? She meets up with her boyfriend and casually admits that she’s pregnant and getting an abortion, barely whipping the whip when he dares get angry at her.
Anais is a walking, speaking free association, a corollary, a little tornado of a woman who is here and now and nowhere else, exhausting, but she’s not the one exhausted, she are. She’s a Parisian whim in a cute sundress, girly bangs and red lipstick, possibly a college student (writing a thesis on “Descriptions of Passion from the 17 film herself, and now she’s sleeping with the nice older bike/elevator man. He’s not very good in. He rolls off her and apologizes for the inaction and the smoke alarm starts beeping like a warning although who knows if the warning is for him or her and she gets up naked and runs over and bangs one Book on the alarm until it pops apart like a joke box of nuts, a development that will no doubt lead to the very old furnace catching on fire.Soon she will be featured in a scene where a man gave Xanax to a monkey and neither seems to be handling it well.I think the man is her brother and the monkey is actually a lemur.
What slows down Anaïs? Her mother (Anne Canovas). She is a kind woman. Lives in the country. Still with Anais’ father. Her cancer has returned and she is undergoing chemotherapy. Anais is concerned. But nothing will bring her down. We need to talk more about the elderly Mr. Daniel (Denis Podalydes), who is married to a writer who often writes elsewhere. He invites Anais over and she looks at all this other woman’s stuff and she’s done with it. The other woman is Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), a novelist, screenwriter, and essayist of some repute among academics. Anais reads her work and it touches her deeply. Anais is to help organize a symposium – this is her work or her studies or both, not that it matters as everything seems fairly neglected and withered – but she follows suit to attend another symposium, one, at which Emelie speaks, and she charms Emelie, “You skipped a symposium to go to a symposium?” Of course she did, she’s Anais. And she will remain Anais, even when Daniel arrives at the symposium and can’t believe he’s looking at his wife and young mistress, who are getting along well, as if they’ll get along sooner rather than later. How did this one guy put it? I feel like I’m sitting on a nuclear bomb waiting for it to go off?
Which movies will it remind you of?: Try it and don’t compare Anais in love to The worst person in the worldwhich channels amelie about Woody Allen and also played a 30-something woman with brown hair and bangs who doesn’t know what the hell to do with herself and just chooses to live restlessly. anais also places its directors in a cinema watching a Cassavetes film, so wham if you’re trying to locate its free-roaming, almost chaotic atmosphere, that’s it.
Notable performance: Demoustier finds herself in a role where she has to dive feet first into a character who is a much, much stronger candidate for “the worst person alive” than the protagonist in The worst person in the worldAlthough the indeed The worst person is far, far worse than Anais.
Memorable dialogue: Two separate disclosure statements:
Anais’ father about Anais: “Her irresistible charm saves her.”
Anais about Anais: “I don’t want to meet interesting people. I would like to be Interesting.”
gender and skin: Quite a lot of casual female nudity in both comedic and erotic situations, which is just so incredibly damn French, isn’t it?
Our opinion: Well, we spend 98 minutes with one character putting out one fire while lighting another, so it’s not the most relaxing experience. But bourgeois tacquet is not open minded He stresses us out by putting us in Anais’ perspective – the tone here is generally airy and sexy, the character straddling the spectrum between casual and dizzy. So let’s just call them selfishly lively, the kind that we look at and evaluate ourselves, wondering if we could be a little more selfishly lively without being this be selfish lively and maybe the interesting person but not to Interesting. How’s that for a shaky compromise of an existence Anais would never want?
Anais in love acts as a mediocre character study whose heroine (antiheroine?) plunges headfirst into seriocomic disaster with a host of complex types, most notably: the easily disconcerted, ultimately simplistic Daniel. Her mother appreciating her daughter’s levity in the midst of a grim scenario (although this subplot could be developed further). And Emelie, who, like no other in the film, is physically and mentally infatuated with Anais and doesn’t easily succumb to her charisma. (Were there others like Emelie in Anais’ life? Feels like no, but we can’t be sure.) Anais occasionally flares with confidence, though she doesn’t have a traditional “arc” or catalyst to change her behavior, and she does isn’t it the hot-chaos type that’s so often satirized, stereotyped, or exploited in bigger, broader comedies. Spending too much time with her could drive us crazy. But it’s hard not to side with someone for whom boredom is a mortal enemy.
Our appeal: Stream it. Anais in love is a haunting, funny, annoying comedy that is less a comedy than it first appears. Let the subtle complexities sink in after the fact.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more about his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.