Romantics Anonymous

Romantics Anonymous


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Chocolate has long been a handy film metaphor for love, its bitter/sweet combination and melt in the mouth quality boosting it to a central role in romances such as Chocolat and Like Water For Chocolate. Here it again stands as a symbol of the indulgent confection of amour in Jean-Pierre Améris' frothy, funny and utterly charming romantic comedy.

Angélique (Isabelle Carré) knows a thing or two about chocolate. Despite being devastatingly timid, she has confidence when it comes to creating fresh recipes using the sweet. Spurred on by her Romantics Anonymous meetings - a 12-step programme to help people shy away from being shy - she turns up for a job at a local chocalatiers. The firm is run by Jean-René (Benoît Poelvoorde), whose reputation for being mean covers up his own horrendous bashfulness around women. As he tells his psychotherapist - "I have no problem with women, they terrify me is all."

Angélique sings the Sound Of Music's I Have Confidence to gee herself up, while Jean-René clings to his self-help tapes like a dying man to a liferaft.

Amazingly, Angélique gets the job - or rather, she gets a job. Unfortunately for her, however, Jean-René sees her passion for chocolate as the perfect attribute for a door-to-door sales position - his last-ditch effort to stop the company going bust. And if all that wasn't enough to send things spinning into the world of farce, on the instructions of his therapist, Jean-René asks her to dinner.

We then follow their atypical romance as they stumble from one comic set-up to the next, willing them - and the chocolate firm - to make it against the odds. Améris quickly and cleverly sets up the characters so that we care about them, even as they are making cringeworthy mistakes. The script is taut and bounces along, and features a judicious use of musical numbers to garner laughs. Carré has an effortless sunny-side-up sweetness that, along with that song, recalls the best of Julie Andrews, while some of the visual gags mustered up by Améris are reminiscent of her husband Blake Edwards' finest work. Poelvoorde, meanwhile, proves a master of deadpan comic timing.

The sugar-rush romance never becomes overwhelming thanks to an undercurrent of absurdity. Like the chocolate at its heart, Améris' film is sweet, a little indulgent and over all-too-quickly but leaves a lingering glow of happiness.

Reviewed on: 01 Sep 2011
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Two pathologically shy neurotics connect through a love of chocolate.
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Director: Jean-Pierre Améris

Writer: Jean-Pierre Améris, Philippe Blasband

Starring: Benoît Poelvoorde, Isabelle Carré, Lorella Cravotta, Lise Lamétrie, Swann Arlaud, Pierre Niney, Stéphan Wojtowicz, Jacques Boudet, Alice Pol, Céline Duhamel, Philippe Fretun, Grégoire Ludig, Philippe Gaulé, Joëlle Séchaud, Isabelle Gruault

Year: 2010

Runtime: 80 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: France, Belgium

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