Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres)
Now playing at the Paris Theater
World War II
now this? When will the French stop sucking
What with being outside at barbeques and such all last
weekend, I've had a nasty bought of chapped lips lately.
Sometime, about halfway through Read My Lips, I was
absently using my teeth to pick at an unusually large piece
of dead-lip-skin that was dangling seductively from my lower
pouter. Eventually, in frustration and annoyance, I tore
off the offending chuck. While I absently tongued the tender
spot where the skin had hung, now slightly metallic in taste
from a drop of blood that was oozing out, I realized that
I was so bored with this movie I was literally chewing my
Somewhat ironic, I thought, considering the title.
The score is haunting and chilling and very tense. The
sound editing, also, is very clever. Carla (Emmanuelle Devos),
our heroine, is almost completely woman, and frequently
when she removes her hearing aids, the sound is cut, so
that we might hear exactly what she hears. This works really
well at times, to build both empathy and tension. Especially
chilling is the moment when you, and she, hear a methodical
series of dull thuds, like a heavy Drum-N-Bass beat. As
she fumbles for and eventually activates the hearing aids,
the sounds transform into what is unmistakably a man being
severely beaten directly outside of her bathroom stall.
The acting is impressive. There are no powerhouse performances
that stir you to tears, but there are some very real portrayals
of very simple, straightforward characters (which, one might
argue can be even more difficult). However, as a man cannot
sustain himself on popcorn and Sprite indefinitely, no movie
can ride for long with only the music and the acting alone.
This was supposed to be a good movie. It had all the workings
of a good movie. The accessories that make up this movie
are strong and solid. By 'accessories' I mean the necklace
that is the acting, the saucy red high-heels that are the
editing and cinematography, the well primped hair that is
the directing, and the cute little black dress that is the
music. Unfortunately the girl that is the movie is dull
and uninteresting. You stop caring about her, or her characters
or her dilemma within half-an-hour and start waiting for
a climax that never happens.
The music, the camera work, the pace of the film, the acting,
all of these contribute to an extremely high, almost visceral
tension. However the plot makes no call for any of this.
What is billed as a nail-biting, pins and needles thriller,
is really nothing more than a fairly lame heist movie. While
the tension is fabulously built, there's no justifiable
reason for it. An hour into the movie you realize that you're
scared, but there is nothing to be scared of.
That's when you realize how bored you are and start chewing
on your lips.
The Ratings (out of a possible four)
Acting: 3 Dames Judi Dench
The only real acting job of note is by Emmanuelle Devos,
Vincent Cassell hold his own, but never manages to push
his character beyond the 2-dimensions of the ex-con. She
carries this movie well, however, and portrays a complex,
plain-looking, unhappy-but-not-depressed, mid-twenties woman
deftly and with terrific grace.
Tension: 3 ½ Rolly-Polly Hitchcocks
If this had actually been the thriller it was hyped to be,
if there had been one scary or startling turn to the plot,
it would have been excellent. Audirad knows how to make
the audience squirm with anticipation and nervousness; he
just doesn't know how to justify it.
Boredom: 4 pills. Little, Blue, Different, Valium!
And to think I chose this over Lovely and Amazing.
Overall: 1 ½ Lips, unreadable because
I've chewed them off my face.
Read My Lips is better than Star Wars
Episode II, Attack of the Clones. I guess that's something