Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet has a debut and a hit with “Anais in Love,” a relationship drama that is swift and enjoyable with an engaging breezy momentum. Back in the day this could have been the territory of Woody Allen if he did not become be toxic.
The charm is in no a small part due to actor Anais Demoustier in the title role, who is enigmatic, open and full of fire. She is also funny.
Anais is a young college student studying for her thesis. She wants the kinds of adventure that she reads about in classic literature. There is one problem: men let her down. By chance she meets a nervous older man in an apartment Daniel (Denis Podalydès), after she tells him that she suffers from claustrophobia. Daniel is hooked by the quirky young girl and Anais is curious. Needless to say, Anais gives the arch of her eyebrow and a quasi-relationship ensues except that Daniel is too worried to consummate matters.
Daniel is bumbling and hectic wanting to keep everything status quo—he’s married—and Anais is curious and inquisitive. Her face is as flexible and expressive as a cartoon from Max Fleischer. She keeps you guessing. This is part of the fun. Anais, both the character and the actor is enthralling to watch. While Demoustier does have wild and hectic energy (her arms and legs seem to spin and pinwheel all over the place, a human mobile) she appears one hundred percent authentic.
Actor Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is the reserved Emilie the wife who becomes intrigued by Anais’ innocence and her chimerical attitudes.
Through there have been other movies that tread this amoral ground, few films have portrayed such straightforward tone from the perspective of a young woman without manipulative aims who only wants to collect experiences, possibly to become a writer, or even more primal because she is terrified of death coming without notice or fanfare.
This is a return to films about characters, motivated by emotions and yearnings without superpowers. It is a film that underscores the eccentricity that can dwell within the everyday.
There is no need to lament the past films of Audrey Tautou. There is a sliver of her galvanism in Demoustier. “Anais in Love” highlights the domestic circus that is all possible for us, containing all of its adventure, its fickle caprice and bittersweet moments.
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