Monday, March 2, 2009

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

I love this film. Always have, always will. 

Okay, so what if the acting is a little rigid: ruffling one's own hair and waving one's arm wildly does not emotion make. But that is what Blanche (Emmanuelle Chaulet) does during moments of provocation, and there are plenty of those in this superb romantic comedy.

Fabien (Eric Viellard) wants to be with Blanche but she is aware that Lea (Sophie Renoir), Fabien's boyfriend, is her new best friend. So Blanche is keeping her distance, or at least trying to.

The proverb of this film, the last of the six Comedies and Proverbs is: 'the friend of my friend is my friend also'.

Emmanuelle Chaulet in just one several delightful period pieces.

Complicating things further, Blanche believes (and is encouraged to believe by Lea), that she is drawn to Alexandre, a charming Lotharia, played by Francoise-Eric Gendron. Alexandre is a friend of Fabien, just to square the circle.

Blanche works an arts bureaucrat in Cergy-Pontoise, a rather futuristic village, or at least futuristic in 1986 when L'ami de mon amie was made. It's a rather sterile, remote place, yet one that allows the four main protagonists to encounter each other in the course of a day or evening, in a way that a city might not. There are no cars, everybody walks everywhere, there are plenty of cafes and the lake is surrounded by parklands. (What's not to like about that?) It is the cleverly and carefully orchestrated crossing of paths that makes this film swing. That and the wonderful, vulnerable and believable characters. 

 Blanche is such a likable heroine; her situation so recognisable. She is not at all calculating, or if she is, not presumptive enough to act on her plans or hopes. One of the pleasures of the film is watching and waiting as the pieces fall intricately into place.

The film has a number of my favourite sequences. Watching the film again on dvd brought back some of the feelings I first experienced when I saw it for the first time. Where was that? Can't remember: either Perth Film Festival (Somerville Gardens?) or the Windsor in Nedlands. There are a indelible moments such as when Blanche and Fabien go for rambling on the tow-paths and forests outside Cergy-Pontoise; when we see the vast empty modernist plaza of the village, so far from Paris; Alexandre's unexplored differences with his girlfriend (who he completely fails to understand) and when all are united by the story's end. 

Unsurprisingly, after watching My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, I spent much of the weekend wishing I was in Paris. 

Le sigh.

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