Written and directed by Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, 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. Starring: Anaïs Demoustier, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Denis Podalydès, Jean-Charles Clichet, Xavier Guelfi, Christophe Montenez, Anne Canovas, Bruno Todeschini, Annie Mercier and Grégoire Oestermann.
Diving into Anaïs in Love there’s one key issue, it spends too much of its time on the men, and while they do serve to nicely set up the plot, they’re otherwise fairly superfluous. It simply takes time away from the sensual, intellectual and compelling romance that blossoms between Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) and Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). It’s disappointing to see it drag its heels in developing that side of the story, and not doing it true justice by letting it take over a larger portion of the runtime. It’s engaging nonetheless but it would be an incredible film if it actually let its strongest element take hold sooner. Not only to do service to its story but also to its two fantastic lead actresses.
Anaïs Demoustier and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi have such an endearing and charged chemistry, and it’s built in an utterly natural manner. While Demoustier’s Anaïs is a tornado of relentless energy, Tedeschi’s Emilie is calm, wise and contented, bringing the two together sparks something new in them both. It’s clear immediately but takes time to truly grow into a special connection which becomes undeniable. Anaïs is a character who has many flaws and shouldn’t be inherently likable and yet Demoustier brings a certain open, chaotic charm that niggles under your skin. The performance from Tedeschi is understated, elegant and while it is a shame we don’t get to see more of her, she’s a wonderful, strong presence.
One of the great things about how their story is approached is that sexuality doesn’t need to be a part of the conversation, it can simply be accepted that each of them attracted to more than one gender. It brings a great deal of its romance through its lovingly coloured visual, and the direction feels classically that of a French drama. Again, it does take too long to get to the crux of its story but at the same time the themes of romance, attraction and emotional connection come through strongly. As those themes take hold, it moves from the fast, chaotic pace of Anaïs to a middle ground, nicely reflecting the impact that Emilie’s presence has on her.
Anaïs in Love would pair perfectly with The Worst Person in the World, grasping upon the imperfect nature of romance and figuring out who you are and what you want. It’s a shame that it takes its sweet time to arrive at the heart of the film, and doesn’t really spend enough time exploring the blossoming relationship between Anaïs and Emilie but their chemistry is terrific. It may not quite reach its full potential but it’s perfectly French, charming, charged and compelling.