The extent to which Diane immediately trusts Alexandre, the stranger who finds her lost phone and promptly whisks her on extravagant dates in planes and down dark alleys, is baffling, but Virginie Efira and Jean Dujardin are very watchable together. As a character Diane doesn’t always convince, but Efira and Dujardin portray the developing relationship beautifully.
The conveniently claustrophobic scenario of Diane and ex-husband Bruno (Kahn) working together allows for a neat legal subplot, and provides much humour by way of a double-crossing assistant (Papanian). There’s one brilliant gag involving older ladies and semi-nude photography, but overall the script leans too heavily for its laughs on only moderately clever wordplay (much like its English title).
Oddly for a French-language film made in the context of the French government’s endeavour to protect their native tongue, Up for Love is soundtracked with exclusively English-language music. The songs are as tired as the tropes trotted out: the post-coital note on the pillow, a lovesick woman crying as she drives – at its worst the film resembles a tearjerker music video. Sets look realistically lived-in, though the obviously expensive interiors are somewhat akin to magazine spreads.
However, there’s admirable cinematography of a kind not often found in this genre, including a gorgeous curving pan during a skydive, and a clever trompe l’œil. Though the effects which allow the 5’11’’ Dujardin to play Alexandre are faultless, the actor’s true height is likely to draw valid criticism about why a shorter actor wasn’t cast.
Among the assembled clichés of this French romantic comedy are arresting moments of social commentary and tentative yet problematic engagement with the continuing debate about diversity of representation in film. The plot’s a supermarket sweep, but Up for Love displays a lot of technical elegance.
CAST: Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cédric Kahn, Stéphanie Papanian
DIRECTOR: Laurent Tirard
WRITERS: Corazon de Leon, Marcos Carnevale, Laurent Tirard, Grégoire Vigneron
SYNOPSIS: After losing her phone a well-known lawyer receives a call from Alexandre, the man who finds it. They hit it off and agree to meet up the following day. But when Alexandre arrives, Diane discovers he is only 4′ 6″ tall. From that moment on, Diane tries to overcome her own prejudices and those of society.