We all have unique personalities, but sometimes we’re not as different as we think. Many of us are shy when meeting new people, but we start to open up after a while. Others might be more open right from the start. Well, Anaïs from “Anaïs in Love”, the debut film from writer/director Charline Bourgeois-Racquet, belongs to the latter group. While constantly running late and messing up other people’s schedules, she often also overshares with strangers. She might be a mess, but she’s still charming and fun. We can say the same things about the movie itself. While “Anaïs in Love” is all over the place, the adorable and uplifting lead performance by Anaïs Demoustier saves the film.
Always running from one place to another, always being late and sometimes forgetting appointments, saying that Anaïs (Demoustier) is racing to survive would be a complete understatement. Her life becomes even more unhinged when her boyfriend Raoul (Christophe Montanez) moves. Her literature dissertation comes to a complete standstill, and when Anaïs’s mother (Anne Canovas) again has to deal with cancer, Anaïs doesn’t know what to do (maybe she never knew in the first place).
Her life is about to become more chaotic and complicated when she meets Daniel (Denis Podalydès) at a party. While he’s old enough to be her father and married to a famous writer, they begin an affair. Sadly, it’s not the affair they have hoped for. The age difference is getting in the way, and when their relationship becomes sexless and dreadful, Anaïs decides to move on.
However, she can’t get rid of Daniel because, after seeing a televised interview with his wife and famous writer Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), Anaïs falls head over heels in love with her. She starts to read Emilie’s book, and when Anaïs becomes more intrigued with the novels and writer, she begins to stalk Emilie as a declaration of love. Wherever Emilie goes, Anaïs is too. But, of course, Emilie doesn’t know about Anaïs and Daniel’s affair, and Daniel doesn’t know about Anaïs’ love for Emilie. How long can Anaïs live this chaotic, unhinged, secretive life before it all crumbles?
Yes, based on the storyline, it seems that “Anaïs in Love” is a thrilling, suspenseful and vibrant film. While this is true, it is mainly true for the second part of it. The first part is primarily about Anaïs being all-over-the place, non-apologetic and just living her carefree life. The low stakes make this movie a bit uninteresting at first. However, once Anaïs’ affairs start, there’s much more at stake for her. That’s when the story and movie take off!
This is also primarily because of Demoustier (“The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, “Alice and the Mayor”), her excellent, entertaining and layered performance as the cheery, claustrophobic, and hyperactive lead. It’s the second time director Bourgeois-Racquet and Demoustier have worked together. After the casting, the director named the movie after the leading actress and her stunning and multi-layered performance shows us why.
One moment Demoustier puts on lively and exciting acting as the young woman in life. At the same time, during the scenes with her cancer-stricken on-screen mother, her performance becomes more modest, emotional and relatable. Her acting becomes even more uplifting when she’s acting in front of Bruni Tedeschi (“Summer of 85”, “Only The Animals”).
While the women have to deal with some cliché scenes, they make sure that you quietly forgive the writers for these cliches. Tedeschi balances out the grace vibrancy of Demoustier stunningly by portraying Bruni Tedeschi with a lot of restraint, maturity and simplicity. However, don’t let this moderate performance fool you. The tense and sexual vibe between Anaïs and Emilie is always present.
Yes, it takes a while before “Anaïs in Love” finds its feet, rhythm and soul. Mainly due to the cliches and the uninspiring storyline. However, once it does, it becomes much more intriguing, fun and vivid with a shining Demoustier as the perfect lead.
“Anaïs in Love” is out in U.K. cinemas and digital available now
19th August 2022
THE QUICK SELL
Follows Anaïs, a 30-year old woman that is broke and has a lover she doesn't think she loves anymore. She meets Daniel, who immediately falls for her, but Daniel lives with Emilie - who Anaïs also falls for.