Dir/scr: Emmanuel Mouret. France. 2011. 85mins


Lighter than light episode comedy, pretending to be a modern version of sentimental education French style, Emmanuel Mouret’s new romantic spoof on his countrymen’s mating habits may be defined by some as cute, amusing but inconsequential and by others as just inconsequential. 

Sex is the main object of the film but never shown on screen.

Using a large cast of fashionable French stars and plenty of photogenic locations, most of them in Paris, The Art of Love (L’art d’aimer) is the type of entertainment that is likely to draw attention in when it first hits the market, it might encounter serious problems once it goes into general release. The film had its premiere at the Locarno Film Festival.

From the very beginning, when the script officially announces that every romance has its own musical theme resonating in the ears of the persons who fall in love, the general mood of the picture is quickly established.

The weather is always great in this film, the sets are never less than enticing, the musical selections on the soundtrack including Brahms and Chopin, Schubert and Mozart are always sunny, the characters are all cute, charming and terribly concerned with their bodies and their hearts, though not always quite capable of telling them apart.

In an early episode, Julie Depardieu, who hasn’t had sex for a year, is offered (or is she just dreaming it?) the chance to share the bed of her girlfriend’s partner, because it’s unhealthy to abstain from such an essential body function for so long and anyway what are good friends for if not to share.

Then there is Francois Cluzet who is desperate for female companionship, but has to work long and hard before he can break down the resistance of his luscious but harebrained neighbor, Frederique Bel. Another young couple - Gaspard Ulliel and Elodie Navarre - who share all their secrets, find out it’s more difficult to cheat on each other than they ever imagined it would be.

And how about Judith Godreche, happily married but unfulfilled because no one appreciates her offers to help, who finds an ideal solution to satisfy an old friend desperately craving for her, by appealing to the afore-mentioned, sex-starved Julie Depardieu?

Though pretending to be terribly promiscuous, this is a very traditional collection of tales praising the old-fashioned couple, whose bond is never broken and if there are at times certain temptations to stray from the right path, they are very quickly squashed by the true spirit of classic romance.

Sex is the main object of the film but never shown on screen. The mini-plots are squeezed and persistently manipulated to add just a few more minutes to each episode (all of them, but particularly the Cluzet-Bel and the Godreche-Depardieu ones, overstay their welcome long before they are done) and the acting, on the whole, resembles a Paris boulevard show done as a rapid after-thought for quick profits. The profits are most likely to be there, not least because of the art direction, the Paris locations and the lavish photography

Production companies: Moby Dick Films, Partizan Films

International Sales; Kinology, g.melin@kinology.eu

Producers: Georges Bermann, Frederic Niedermayer

Cinematography: Laurent Desmet

Editor: Martial Salomon

Music: Frederic Morel

Main cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Elodie Navarre, Judith Godreche, Julie Depardieu, Francois Cluzet, Frederique Bel, Ariane Ascaride, Philippe Magnan, Pascale Arbillot