Comme Une Image

Comme Une Image

****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

What a pleasant film, full of stinging, sarcastic wordplay and jovially miserable characters. The story doesn't strike the usual setup, buildup or climax. Instead, the denouement feels as though we've just got to know the people in the story. The screenplay is carefully controlled and doesn't lack structure.

Two writers share equal screentime. Etienne Cassard (Jean-Pierre Bacri), is a highly successful writer and publisher, yet suffers from chronic writer's block and has a strongly unlikable knack of using words as weapons, showing cheerful and nasty insensitivity as a strategy for life. Early on, we find him ranting at a taxi driver for failing to show him and his family respect, while his dryly selfish nature takes every opportunity to knock down his family. He has an overweight daughter, Lolita (Marilou Berry), to whom he pays no real parental attention. Cassard is married to a trophy wife, who feels like "a chair", in the way she is ridiculed, used and ignored.

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The other writer, Pierre (Laurent Grévill), is talented, and on his way to success. He has an inexhaustable supply of misery when it comes to his writing, picking apart good reviews and mooching around, when he should be working. His wife, Sylvia, is a music teacher, coaching a group of people, including Lolita, to sing.

Sylvia is stunned by her ability, but eventually decides to give up teaching, until she discovers that Lolita's father is a famous writer. This becomes a running gag, along with plenty of witty and clever one-liners.

These misfit characters pool together to see a film, based on one of Cassard's books. As Cassard runs into the after screen party, Lolita pauses to help a young man after he collapses, blind drunk, and leaves him covered with her jacket. It is returned, with thanks, and a growing friendship ensues. This subplot is the one that drives the story on, and yet Lolita's constant depressive manner forces the rest of the film down. Then again, if my father was in any way as constantly cruel as Etienne, I'd be miserable too.

Our central characters are complete. They decide to go over to Cassard's place for the weekend, Pierre to pick his brains, and possibly make a decision about changing publishers. It's notable that the film is about the misery of performing and creating art, whether it be singing or writing, while we bask in it's pleasures without any trouble at all.

The performances are delightful, with Cassard delivering the caustic one-liners and the ensemble cast taking care of the comedy. I was never bored, and even if there few genuine belly laughs (mostly reaction shots), the intimate wordplay and dry humour kept a smile on my face.

All in all, lots of fun.

Reviewed on: 26 Aug 2004
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Comme Une Image packshot
A young woman finds herself torn between idolising her father and hating him for his indifferent attitude towards her.
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Read more Comme Une Image reviews:

David Haviland ****
Symon Parsons ****

Director: Agnès Jaoui

Writer: Agnès Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri

Starring: Marilou Berry, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Agnès Jaoui, Laurent Grévill, Virginie Desarnauts, Keine Bouhiza, Grégoire Oestermann, Serge Riaboukine, Michèle Moretti, Jean-Pierre Lazzerini, Jacques Boko

Year: 2004

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: France

Festivals:

EIFF 2004

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