Two of my fellow critics warned of a twist that they didn’t want to give away. One was disappointed that the surprise wasn’t bigger, the other was wowed by it.
Their comments surprise me, because I didn’t think there was a twist at all. It was clear to me from the beginning “what was going on.” You can consider that a spoiler warning if you like, but I wouldn’t.
A Girl Obsessed
Audrey Tautou, loved by Americans as Amelie, stars as a pretty, sweet girl (Angelique) in another French romantic comedy. At least that’s what the opening credits, which are all roses and hearts, lead you to believe.
But soon enough we see a girl obsessed with a handsome stranger. She tells her friends she’s been dating Dr. Loïc (Samuel Le Bihan, recognizable from Brotherhood of the Wolf). She tells them that Loïc loves her, and that he will leave his wife any day now.
Director Laetitia Colombani allows you take Angelique at her word, although look closely and you will see through the charade. It’s clear that she is stalking Dr. Loïc, who may recognize Angelique but who is certainly not involved with her.
A Girl Obsessed, Take Two
Within half an hour, Angelique’s crush has gone from a cute, innocent infatuation to a desperate, fanatical obsession. She turns on the gas in her kitchen, lies down, and drifts off into oblivion.
With only 30 minutes spent, the film rewinds to the beginning and shows the same story, this time told from the point of view of Loïc, and in much more detail. What we suspected about Angelique is true. She can be seen lurking in the background of Dr. Loïc’s life, but she doesn’t register on his radar.
What’s interesting about the second point of view is not the “twist” itself, but the extent to which her seemingly innocent actions can have huge, real impacts on his life. A simple flower, a romantic note, a chance meeting that seemed so innocent, take on a sense of mystery and suspicion from another point of view.
One Ending Too Many
The film takes longer than 30 minutes to present Loïc’s point of view because his story shows us more detail. His story fills the gaps that were left in Angelique’s story. The completed picture looks similar, but the differences are satisfying and surprising.
Unfortunately, Loïc’s story continues beyond the “end” of Angelique’s timeline. This extra piece of film no longer fills in gaps, it introduces new information. And although some of that information is interesting, the film suffers because of its length.
The movie’s structure is a gimmick, and it works. Adding a final ending doesn’t elevate the movie above “gimmick” status. Every minute past that point is a minute of impatience. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is still enjoyable, but it’s too long by about 20 minutes.