Alliance Française French Film Festival
Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas
March 31st – April 24th, 2016
Un Plus Une, Film Review
Like many Australians, my French is somewhat limited to ordering “un pain au chocolat s’il vous plait” and counting to ten, but this didn’t deter my attendance at the Adelaide leg of the French Film Festival. With the obligatory wine in hand, I settled in for screening of Un Plus Une directed and co-written by Claude Lelouch at the endearing Palace Nova East End Cinema.
The premise of Un Plus Une – two people who are already romantically attached to others quickly form a close and unlikely attraction – is not new. However, charismatic leads, beautiful raw scenery and a genuine sense of travelogue discovery produces a romantic drama that is equal parts wistful and alluring.
The story follows jaunty Antoine Abeilard (Jean Dujardin), a famed French composer who is “in love with the idea of love” and in the midst of a happy relationship with the young pianist Alice (Alice Pol). Upon traveling to India to score a Bollywood romance film, Antoine meets Anna (Elsa Zylberstein), the spiritual and charming wife of the French Ambassador (Christophe Lambert) in Mumbai. An instant connection is made and although their relationship remains platonic, the pair find themselves seeking each others’ company as their conversations and potent flirtation deepen. In a spontaneous decision, Antoine joins Anna on an odyssey across India as she heads to the holy city of Benares to bathe in the River Ganges, and then south to meet with Amma, the “hugging saint”.
The chemistry between the protagonists is convincing. Dujardin and Zylberstein expertly portray the magnetic attraction between their characters as they find themselves drawn to one another despite an acute awareness of the inherent consequences of any impulsive behaviour.
While the film casts a certain spell with it’s delicate love story, elegant score and striking images of India, it is sporadically punctuated with the dark dreams of both Antoine and Anna, making it sometimes confusing to follow. The flashbacks to how they each met their partner and the backstory of Antoine’s recently established relationship with his absent father were more clearly established.
The dialogue is, on the most part, witty and thoughtful and Anna and Antoine spar intriguingly, fascinated by each other’s essence and worldview.
Despite the anticlimactic windup and slight lasting emotional impact, Un Plus Une enchantingly explores the fickleness, and yet transformative, nature of unwitting love.