Uncomfortable together – Romantics Anonymous review

Romantics Anonymous - Starring Isabelle Carré and Benoît Poelvoorde. Directed by Jean-Pierre Améris. Rated M. By Simon Miraudo.

Romantics Anonymous plays the Perth International Arts Festival from February 13 – 26. Click here for more details. It arrives in cinemas nationally April 5, 2012.

Those with hearts of stone, read no further. Jean-Pierre Améris‘ delightful French comedy Romantics Anonymous is about emotional-cripples who find love in one another’s awkward embrace. They’re cutesy. They’re clumsy. They’re also chocolatiers. Seriously, abandon hate, all ye who enter here.

The luminous Isabelle Carré stars as Angelique, an uncannily talented chocolate maker who is so paralysed by her emotions, she can’t bear to be acknowledged for her sumptuous creations. Instead, she offloads her chocolates by posing as the delivery girl for their “true” maker: a mountain-bound hermit. When her employer suddenly dies, Angelique applies for a job at a flailing chocolate mill, where she meets the equally uncomfortable Jean-Rene (Benoît Poelvoorde).

After a series of miscommunications – as the French are wont to engage in – this painfully shy woman is hired as a sales rep. Jean-Rene, urged by his psychiatrist to ask someone – anyone! – on a date, randomly poses the offer to Angelique. She, meanwhile, is encouraged by her Emotions Anonymous support group to accept the offer. On and on it goes, with Angelique and Jean-Rene playing commitment-chicken, eventually connecting like they never have with anyone before; two big balls of nerves, eventually finding themselves forced to make the kind of speeches and gestures required of characters in typical rom-coms, but struggling all the while to find the words.

Romantics Anonymous feels like a far less raunchy, but similarly sweet variation on Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin. In and out in under 80 minutes – weirdly, closing with Australia’s own Angus and Julia Stone’s Big Jet Plane – the film’s brevity is a welcome change compared with other recent comedies that go on for an unnecessary extra half hour (Crazy Stupid Love, did you really need that dumb speech at the end?). However, the conflict never really feels insurmountable and the events of the picture not all that memorable; it’s so slight, it makes The Artist seem like it has the gravitas of Schindler’s List.

3/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Romantics Anonymous plays the Perth International Arts Festival from February 13 – 26. Click here for more details. It arrives in cinemas nationally April 5, 2012.

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