Sing your cares away
AT JUST 78 minutes, this French comedy is actually 10 minutes shorter than Chipwrecked. Yet it still feelsa little bit overextended. That’s not to say there aren’t things to enjoy in Romantics Anonymous. Featuring committed performances by Benoît Poelvoorde and Isabelle Carré – committed, that is, to froth, fluff and frivolity – the film bullies you into acknowledging its stubborn good nature. Dislike it and you must be the sort of lout who dislikes raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
As if to emphasise that point, Angelic, Ms Carré’s character, seems unable to walk five paces without singing a French version of I Have Confidence from, yes, The Sound of Music.
The song is ironically used.
Though a sunny individual, the heroine is strangely shy about revealing her mighty talent as a chocolatier. When working for an upmarket confectioner’s, she pretends that all her recipes come from a mysterious hermit. Then she is forced to change jobs and realises that her coyness has left her unqualified. Employed as a salesperson for a small firm, she soon devises a plan to save the failing business from bankruptcy.
Few recent films have been so determinedly old-fashioned. When set beside Romantics Anonymous, penny-farthings, rotary telephones and sweets sold from jars seem positively cutting edge.
However, the romantic interplay between Carré and Poelvoorde, who plays her equally shy boss, is so beautifully timed that it becomes difficult to care about the fusty atmosphere. There are little hints of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg in the musical numbers. Carré wrinkles her nose like a latter-day Leslie Caron. Only an utter wretch would dismiss the thing out of hand.