He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not – out now

Nothing is quite what it seems in Laetitia Colombani’s creepy romantic thriller He loves me… he loves me not. The film opens with promising art student Angelique played by Audrey Tautou (Amelie, The Da Vinci Code) entering a flower shop and sweet-talking the manager into giving her a single rose to send to her loved-one, the handsome cardiologist Loic (Samuel Le Bihan). Next we see Loic sniffing the flower, evidently touched.

Loic is in fact married, with a pregnant wife, but this doesn’t seem to bother Angelique in the slightest. She confidently informs her concerned friend Héloïse (Sophie Guillemin) that Loic is sure to leave her so they can settle down together, and from what we see of their relationship, it could be true.

But that very night Loic stands her up, and worse still, fails to show up at the airport where they are to embark on a two-week holiday in Florence. From that moment Angelique spirals into a frenzy of obsession and self-despair.

Then, about 40 minutes in, the movie rewinds and we’re back at the flower shop. This time, it’s Loic’s version, and the new angle is so unlike that of Angelique, the two could be starring in different movies. As the truth about their relationship gradually comes to light, the film develops into a chilling psychological thriller.

The self-confident plot construction is underpinned by more subtle evidence that something is not quite right. Angelique’s opening scene is all hearts, roses and pretty trinkets. Even the music – flutes and tinkling triangles – is mawkishly sentimental. Loic’s opening theme also involves hearts, but of a different kind – X-rays and clinical drawings. Abrasive sound effects such as the scuffing of shoes or the filing of a key slice through the sickliness of the first half.

Audrey Tautou executes the deception brilliantly: only when we start to warm to her pixyish charms do we notice that the sparkle in Angelique’s eyes has taken on a neurotic gleam. Suddenly, our romantic notions of romance and passion are turned on their head. Enchantment has become a dirty word.

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