Monday, 28 November 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Beautiful Lies

Directed by: Pierre Salvadori

Produced by: Philippe Martin

Screenplay by: Benoit Graffin
Pierre Salvadori

Starring: Audrey Tautou

Nathalie Baye
Sami Bouajila

Music by: Philippe Eidel

Cinematography by: Gilles Henry

Editing by: Isabelle Devinck

Studio(s): Les Films Pelleas
TF1 Films Production
Tovo Films

Distributed by: Pathe (France)

Trinity Film (United Kingdom)

Release date(s): December 8, 2010 (France)

August 12, 2011 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 100 minutes

Country: France

Language: French

Budget: (Unavailable)

Box office revenue: (Unavailable)

Alright gang, updates updates! The review following this will be one for Drive Angry. Next on the itinerary will be The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), which I am bracing myself to watch tonight. Tomorrow, I'll be watching either The Adjustment Bureau or The Way Back, so keep your eyes... wait! I'm not finished! On another note, for my creative writing course I will be working on a radio play, which I'm looking forward to creating. If all goes well (i.e. if I'm able to overcome my impatience/aversion to technology), I might well put it on the blog for you all to sample. Toodles!

Okay, so here we have Beautiful Lies. Earlier on in the year, I stated my intention to see it, but unfortunately missed it (one must take critics' words with a pinch of salt!) due to no reason other than my own inability to keep up with the amount of films coming out. At least that's the excuse I'm sticking with! Anyway, the film stars Audrey Tautou as Emilie, a young woman running her own hairdressing salon. After throwing an anonymous love letter (from one of her workers, Jean, played by Sami Bouajila) in the trash, she decides to send the letter to her forlorn, depressed mother Maddy (Nathalie Baye), still stricken by her husband's decision to leave her. The letter, which failed to move it's intended recipient Emilie, revitalises Maddy's love for life, and as is expected with a French whimsical comedy, all sorts of hilarious entanglements ensue.

Now, please do not take that as sarcasm. I know that is something that sounds like it comes from the film's marketing/financial department, whose tactics I usually take the piss out of. The fact is that I enjoyed watching Beautiful Lies. In terms of dialogue, this is up there with Bridesmaids in snappiness and quotability. Also, it doesn't feel forced whatsoever, and ensures that these do feel like real people. This realisation is further hammered in by three strong performances. Audrey Tautou has always been adapt at this material, and this further proves it. She carries herself with wonderful charm and elegance, while not being afraid to speak her mind or be a nasty bitch. Her Emile is well-rounded and three-dimensional, and her delivery of the script's dialogue is note-perfect. Also good is Nathalie Baye, whose Maddy makes the most dramatic emotional shifts in the film, but manages to keep the audience engaged. Like her onscreen daughter, Baye exudes charm and charisma, delivering a fine performance. Although to a lesser extent, as the women take centre-stage, Sami Bouajila elevates what could have been the film's worst performance to that of one that is both sympathetic and humorous. Considering the number of rather embarrassing (and entertaining) set-pieces he usually ends up being the butt-end of, he does a fine job in ensuring that he doesn't become the comic-fodder stock-character. Director Pierre Salvadori handles this with efficiency and grace, his directorial stamp giving the film the sense of pace and tension that a film of this nature requires. He must also be credited for ensuring the film's comic timing and that it doesn't, like so many other comedies, fall flat on it's face into the pitfalls of the genre. Finally, at a running length of a hundred minutes, it is exactly as long as it needs to be, no longer or shorter.

That said, while I think that Beautiful Lies is a highly admirable comedy, the film is by no means without its flaws. As a whimsical comedy, unfortunately there is only so far that it goes, and there is a real sense of a tentative approach in not staring outside of what is good about the genre. It really felt as if they weren't trying to do anything new or original, no matter how well they did the nuts-and-bolts stuff. As such, despite the ridiculous entanglements, which seem to have no way out for the characters, things end up in the most predictable and expected of fashions possible, even if it is without question the least plausible. Also, being a whimsical comedy, it is occasionally plagued by that terribly annoying 'bouncy, bouncy, ha, ha, ha, that's your cue, time to la-la-laugh' music. There are some really terrible cues that indicate to the audience, who would obviously be too thick to notice without it, that we are about to be led into a raucously humorous scene that is simply side-splittingly funny. Word to idiots: sometimes silence is golden, and the scenes would have been much funnier if you were to omit those stupid little cues which are as bad as some of the asides that punctuate every single Shakespeare comedy! For the record, Shakespeare's best comedies were his tragedies, as his comedies were as forced out as a well-trapped turd. While not as bad as that, Beautiful Lies has this issue to a certain extent, and it really is a shame that such a watchable and entertaining film should be let down by silly mistakes like this which seem to happen time and time again.

Certainly, Beautiful Lies has it's problems. It never quite emerges from the trappings of the film's genre, and thus it ensures the film is very predictable. Also, it is punctuated by that highly theatrical and stagey music that indicates certain moments where you must laugh, and maybe, just maybe, even shed a tear. These problems, when they emerge, are frightfully annoying. However, for the most part, this is a consistently entertaining film. You get three great performances from Tautou (our generation's Audrey Hepburn), Baye and Bouajila, some this year's best-written dialogue/comedic set-pieces, permeated by a constant fast, efficient and exciting pace by director Pierre Salvadori. While not being anything new, this is the kind of standard that we as audiences deserve to see on a more regular basis in a comedic film.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 7.3/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Amped (Human Centipede 2, here I come!)

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