Wednesday, 8 December 2010

L'homme de ma vie - a French rom-com treasure

Without going overboard, one of life’s small pleasures is to discover a movie you’ve never heard of and thoroughly enjoy. Such was the case with L’homme de ma vie (The man of my life) which I watched today.
I’d picked up the DVD at my library; other than registering that it was a French rom-com its director Jean Charles Tacchella meant little to me – and its female lead Maria de Medeiros hardly more. That’s Medeiros (above) in a clinch with Bruce Willis in a still from Pulp Fiction (I’ll explain why later).
My last exposure to French romantic comedy – Vanessa Paradis in Heartbreaker – was disappointing so I had little in the way of high expectations of my rental.
The 1992 movie proved totally entertaining. It tells the un-politically correct story of a young woman dumped by a lover, who finds herself broke and decides to use her sex appeal to marry for money.
The enjoyment of the film was enhanced by the cultural differences that emerge when compared to an Anglo-American product in the same genre.
As befits a nation synonymous with food and sex, a lot of L’homme de ma vie unfolds around the dining table – both domestic and restaurant – and the bedroom. The movie’s motive force, however, is money or rather the lack of it. Jane Austen would have had no difficulty in identifying with the heroine’s dilemma.
There is a literary element to the film. The hero is a bookseller; his dialogue is laced with ideas and quotes of famous authors. This isn't Jason Biggs territory.
Unlike the Anglo-Saxon equivalent, sex never “rears its ugly head.” Not that every one isn’t sleeping with everyone else but the act itself isn’t considered a big enough deal to warrant a change in the direction of the plot.
I make no judgement on the amoral approach to sex depicted by the film. It’s hardly desirable that all the married characters are cheating on their spouses. Like rom-coms of every nationality love is the guiding principle and I’m not going to argue with that.
Now back to Maria de Medeiros, award winning actress, director and singer. Though Portuguese-born in L’homme de ma vie she is every delicious French female film star rolled into one.
In the movie she regularly dons a clingy, red dress when she goes hunting her male prey. This should be illustrating my post but I cannot find an image of Medeiros so attired.
So I’ve resorted to a picture of Medeiros in her most widely viewed English language - albeit brief - role that of Fabienne, the girlfriend of Butch Collidge played by Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction.
The following exchange is typical of the movie:-
Butch: I think I cracked a rib.
Fabienne: Giving me oral pleasure?
Butch: No, retard, from the fight.
Will Quentin Tarantino ever make another film as good?

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