Review: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Audrey Tautou

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Before I get started, this review contains a lot of spoilers for He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Do not continue past the cut if you care about such things. I originally had these all in ROT13, but that does get a little annoying to read and go between. So, instead, I’m just going to mention that there’s loads of spoilers, and let people either read or not read as the case may be.
A while ago, I watched the DVD of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. I wanted to see it when it came out, but I never got the chance. Luckily, as is often the case with smaller foreign films, it came out on DVD pretty soon after. Since I had just had my birthday, and as such, had Birthday Money, I bought a boat of DVDs, including this one. This actually has nothing to do with anything, but I just thought I’d mention it.

The film sounded really interesting based on the reviews I’d read. It also has Audrey Tautou in it, and she was really good in Amélie. I think so far, she’s about the only acting-person other than Crispin Glover I’ve wanted to see a movie for. Granted, it did help that I knew the plot beforehand, and it sounded good; it wasn’t like “Oh This Person Is In This Movie About A Bomb That Goes Off And It’s A World Not Meant For Them And Only One Can Live Or Maybe Two and Whatever Other Bad Trailer Cliché You Can Think Of, Ooh, Ooh, Like The One That Looks Godawful With The Women-Paid-For-Being-Pretty-In-Real-Life In A Bad Punk Band Lamenting That They Will Never Be Famous Because They’re Not Pretty!” or anything. If that were the case, I would have had to say “Sorry, Amélie, you’ll have to work your pixie-esque magic somewhere else!” 
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not was actually pretty good. A lot of the reviews seemed overly harsh, although the film’s not perfect by any means. It’s one of the rare films that can actually pull off the whole “LOOK! I AM MESSIN’ AROUND WITH EFFECTS!” thing, and it is a cool effect they use (I’m going to refrain from spoiling it, but it’s actually deftly handled).

One thing: Check the Doctor Names on the Plaques. They go by really quick, but they’re pretty awesome. They’re Dr. Moreau and Dr. J. L. Borges, which I thought was pretty neat, since I kind of like Borges, and there’s always room for another Island of Lost Souls reference, I’d say.

(By the way, if you’re still reading and actually care about spoilers: STOP NOW. The rest of the review discusses the ending. And this is a film with a Twist Ending, so it kind of matters. I’m not going to be responsible for ruining the twist for someone who doesn’t want it ruined. So, if you’ve already seen the film, or don’t care about twists – read on. Otherwise, stop! In fact, I thought a lot of the other reviews actually gave away way too much, but this is a film that’s difficult to describe in a way that’s both Interesting and Not Cutesy, so I can appreciate their problem. If you’re reading this to see if I’d recommend the film: I do, but stop reading so it’s not totally ruined for you.)

The ending was a little iffy, however. It requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, and not really in a Fun Way. There’re two main problems with the way it wraps up though.

The first problem is of the sort that requires the type of disbelief of watching an otherwise intelligent character do something brutally stupid that we’re just supposed to accept. Loic (Samuel Le Bihan) tells Angelique (Audrey Tautou) that she is In Fact, Batshit Insane, and that he wants absolutely nothing to do with her, as he no longer loves her, has never loved her, is moving very far away to avoid her, and is actually In The Act Of Moving As She Is Talking To Him. As he’s telling her this, he’s standing at the top of a staircase, holding a box of heavy things and is surrounded by other boxes of heavy things. After telling her this, despite the whole heavy things/staircase situation, Loic turns around. He apparently expects this Established As Not Only Insane But MURDEROUSLY SO Young Lady Who Has Now Come To The Harsh Reality That The Man Who She Has Only Loved With All Essence Of Her Being Et Cetera Despises And Fears Her to NOT push him down the stairs. I mean, she’d never, ever do that, right? She’d have no thoughts of exacting anything on the man who just now put her through all sorts of excruciating emotional pain, and even though she’s unhinged enough to kill, of course, she wouldn’t give him, a fellow at the top of the stairs with lots of heavy things around that could easily either kill him or at least give him a nasty bump on the noggin, a push.

It’s an especially odd scene, since when the conversation starts, Loic is nowhere near the stairs and walks towards them as he’s delivering his “I DON LOVE YEW” speech. And Loic and the police already know that she’s the murderer of a woman earlier in the film, so it’s not like the Police are all “Well, yeah, she’s nuts but she hasn’t done anything yet”. Basically, when he comes upon her upstairs, all he’d have to do is yell for help or even just stall and wait for someone to make their way up as people are nearby. Very nearby.

So, anyway, yes, he’s on the stairs, and turns his back, with hands full of a big heavy box, and assumes the nutjob whose heart/mind he broke won’t push him.

And, to her credit, she doesn’t.

Unfortunately, she does, however, grab a small statue and wangs him on the head, causing him to fall down the stairs. Even though he, a doctor – a profession normally known for featuring people known for their thinking ability – should have at least seen the possibility of this happening. After all, I’m not a doctor and there’s no fucking way in hell I would even set foot near the staircase with her around. Considering all of the stuff she’d done, which would maybe sort of might give someone an inkling that she’s not terribly stable.

The other problem is another one of those “Wouldn’t you’d think someone would catch that?” types. At the end, she’s been hospitalized for YEARS (oddly enough, she still looks the same, which admittedly is fine with me as Audrey Tautou is adorable, and I like the idea of her not actually being able to physically age). The doctor finally says “OK, after all this the electroshock and whatnot, you’re OK and will be a Productive Member Of Society, so we’re releasing you, and as long as you take your meds, you’ll be cool.” After she checks out, they get her room ready for the next patient. When the maintenance guy comes in, he removes the bureau, and behind it is a collage/whatever of Loic made out of her PILLS.

First off: I admit that I don’t know how things are in France, and maybe it’s Kooky-Crazy Over There, but, I’d think that even if she got better, she would be a candidate for Permanent Committal (considering all the stuff she’d done – killed people, attempted murder, the miscarriage, harassment, etc) even though
the judge said she couldn’t be held accountable due to her insanity. I could see a judge deciding that, and perhaps even passing a sentence that says that when she’s officially all right, she could go free (maybe), but I don’t really buy the idea of a psychiatrist in an asylum for the criminally insane letting someone like her go with just saying “Well, hey, Just Remember To Keep Takin’ The Dope!”. How many people do you know with Life-Threatening Conditions who always remember every single time to take the medicine? Even my mom will occasionally forget her thyroid pills once in a blue moon, and she’s been taking them for about 30 years. At least she has the fail-safe of “Oh, god, I feel utterly horrible! Oh, fuck, I need my meds!” What’s Angelique gonna do? “Oh, god, I feel that he actually DOES love me again! I need my meds!”?

I admit, though, I’m not a psychiatrist, so MAYBE cases like this can be cured and Angelique could be expected to take her meds all the time and what not, so, all right, I’ll let this one slide. Although, the Maintenance Man bit — when he sees the Pill-Loic, he just smiles, chuckles, takes one of the pills, examines it, realizes that Pill-Loic is INDEED MADE OUT OF PILLS WHICH THE PATIENT MUST HAVE GOT AND DECIDED AGAINST TAKING FOR SOME REASON, chuckles again, and then starts scraping them off the wall.

In a case like that, maybe it’s just me, but I’d go “DOCTOR! DOCTOR! THIS PATIENT HASN’T BEEN TAKING THEIR PILLS! IS THAT BAD?” and run and find them to make sure everything’s on the up-and-up. That would be my very first reaction. Not to laugh and think “Oh, those wacky kids with their pills and their wall sculptures”. But maybe that’s just me.

On the other hand, at least she did give us that Adorable “I’m gonna make me some mischief!” smile of hers, so I guess it’s all OK.

Even though I’m coming down a little hard on the ending, the film was pretty good, and I do recommend it. It’s one of those kinds of cases where when it’s good, it’s actually quite good. There’s quite a bit of good suspense, and the film’s told in an interesting manner that doesn’t distract or detract from the story. It might not be the best film in the world, and I’m not sure if you’d want to purchase it sight-unseen, but it’s definitely worth a rental. And if you DID buy it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. There’re worse movies you could pick up. A lot of reviews seemed to describe this as the Evil Amélie, and I suppose that comparison isn’t entirely unwarranted. Audrey Tautou is most likely the main reason to watch this film, but Laetitia Colombani’s direction is very good as well, even if her script isn’t quite up to par. Since it just came out last year, it should be relatively easy to find, and since it has been a year, it’s probably moved off new release racks, so you’d probably be able to find it for a discount. So, if you’re in a video store, and you can’t find anything to rent, why not try this? It probably won’t be your favorite film, but it’s entertaining.

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