Sing your cares away

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

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.

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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.

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