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CANNES 2021 Critics’ Week

Review: Anaïs in Love

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- CANNES 2021: Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet delivers a fast-paced, existentialist comedy of manners which is refreshing, entertaining and skilfully subdued

Review: Anaïs in Love
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Anaïs Demoustier in Anaïs in Love

"You think I don’t know how to love?" Which of us is yet to come across a young, city dwelling PhD student enamoured with literature, whose brain and pace of life move at 100 miles an hour amidst a general cloud of confusion but who isn’t entirely short on charm, either? This is exactly the case for the heroine in Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s first film Anaïs in Love [+see also:
trailer
interview: Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet
film profile
]
, which brought a breath of fresh air and an intelligent sense of fun to Critics’ Week - unspooling within the 74th Cannes Film Festival - where the film was presented in a Special Screening. Propelled forwards by Anaïs Demoustier who is increasingly impressive as she hones her acting prowess (and whose trajectory in the industry looks set to follow that of Isabelle Huppert), the film advances like a whirlwind, switching from one form to another in line with the whims of its protagonist, who’s in a constant state of oscillation in terms of her willingness (and reluctance) to dare to follow her desire(s).

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Anaïs (Demoustier) runs here, there and everywhere, riding her bike through the streets of Paris, always late and always chatty, curious, indiscreet, charming and original but also scatter-brained and a little bit broke; more specifically, she’s two months late with her rent payments because she couldn’t stand living with her ex Raoul (apparently, she doesn’t like sleeping with her lovers, urging them to find another bed, much like she’s not keen on lifts, which make her claustrophobic). She’s also seven weeks pregnant but has decided to have an abortion without consulting an appalled Raoul ("you’re not even capable of interacting, of having a conversation anymore"). In the middle of all that, she learns (cue drama) during a quick trip to the provinces that her mother’s liver cancer has come back. She’s also starting up an affair with married editor Daniel (Bruno Podalydès) and it’s ultimately the latter’s writer wife Émilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) that she desperately wants to meet and whom she follows (without breathing a word to Daniel) to a seminar in Brittany (when she should be elsewhere with her PhD supervisor), having sub-let her Parisian apartment to Japanese tourists. Anaïs runs here, there and everywhere, ardent and light-footed, but how far will her fervour and daring take her?

Combining a hectic pace with the portrait of a woman succumbing to doubt (we glimpse Gena Rowlands in Opening Night in one scene at the cinema) and an exploration of the horizons of passion, Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet displays perfect mastery of her subject. Emotional and sincere, full of energy and freedom, occasionally sensual, mixing up décors (from apartments to coastal countryside), very often funny and boasting superb photography coming courtesy of Noé Bach, Anaïs in Love is a wonderful demonstration of the wide range of talents enjoyed by this young filmmaker, whose future development and stylistic choices will no doubt prove very interesting to watch.

Anaïs in Love is produced by Les Films Pelléas and Année Zéro, co-produced by Arte France Cinéma and sold worldwide by Be For Films.

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(Translated from French)

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