A seductive French tale of lust and discovery – The Hollywood Reporter

Anaïs, the imaginative Parisian protagonist in Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet’s seductive debut film Anaïs in love, is restless, scattered and always on the go. Due to her claustrophobia, taking the subway (including elevators) is out of the question; she prefers to zip through the city on her bike.

When we meet her for the first time, Anaïs arrives late for a meeting with her landlord. A brisk piano melody accompanies the young woman’s run from the florist to her apartment, her backpack bouncing up and down as she grips tightly around a bouquet.

Anaïs in love

The bottom line

Completely seductive.

Release Date: Friday, April 29th
Cast: Anaïs Demoustier, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Denis Podalydès, Jean-Charles Clichet, Xavier Guelfi, Christophe Montenez
Instructor-Screenwriter: Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet

1 hour 38 minutes

It’s the perfect introduction to this beautiful, at times exhausting woman played by Anaïs Demoustier. The energy in the opening sequence is maintained in truth when we follow the character’s conflict with desire. Bourgeois-Tacquet’s film is a carousel, a kinetic portrait of a young woman who stumbles out of love, falls into it, lets it go and picks it up again. Every romance allows for growth, however Anaïs in love is not about coming of age in any nice, linear sense. The film is preoccupied – actually obsessed – with the process of growing into itself, which is different than just getting older. Anaïs’ journey contains moments of exciting momentum and then, just as quickly, depressing inertia. The film sometimes feels crazy and a bit haphazard – just like our main character.

The contours of Anaïs’ personality, shown through her brief, rattling conversation with her landlord, suggest a woman fixated on being interesting. While the landlord impatiently tells her to install a smoke detector and pay her overdue rent, Anaïs mixes around the apartment, switches to a party and admits how things between her and her partner Raoul (Christophe Montenez) are not working. The problem, Anaïs tries to explain while putting on a new dress, is that she thought the home was glaring, boring, not for her.

There is a certain truth in that statement, and other pseudo-deep ones say Anaïs throughout the film. She longs for passion, but seems too distracted to nurture it. She longs for mystery, difference, anything! Daniel (Denis Podalydès), a man almost her father’s age, with whom she begins a firm and undramatic affair, promises it in the first place. But that relationship runs into his own roadblocks as Daniel realizes he does not want to change his life. He does not want to have an affair with Anaïs, which he thinks will inevitably leave him, nor will he completely burn out the life he has built with his partner, Emilie (an ingenious Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), a famous writer.

Anaïs, who, it is clear, is not used to being rejected, does not welcome the breach. She gets fixated on Emilie and tries to understand why Daniel would choose her instead. She reads Emilie’s books and watches her interviews – familiar acts for anyone struggling through the gnarled root of heartache. But the process comes with its own surprises, and what begins as curiosity is transformed into fascination, attraction, desire.

The story at the center of Anais in love is one of seduction. It’s about finding yourself so fascinated by another person, then set, that being in their presence becomes the only goal. Although Anaïs has other responsibilities (she has to hand in her dissertation and take care of her mother whose cancer has returned), she avoids them all to chase Emilie.

The two run into each other on the street, a meeting that suggests Anaïs’ attraction. The understanding dawns on her in that moment. Of course, Daniel Emilie prefers, a beautiful woman whose books leave Anaïs vulnerable and inspired. “I love your style. It’s dazzling,” Anaïs says to Emilie at a busy intersection. “We seem emotionally close.”

Is Anaïs’ love for Emilie real or is it based on projection? Does it matter in the end? Anaïs in love sticks and plugs into these questions and puts the two lovers in meetings testing different theories. The layers of Anaïs and Emilie’s courtship are familiar, but in the hands of Demoustier and Tedeschi they feel different, more enchanting. There are two people trying to find out about each other, Emilie is initially skeptical of Anaïs’ interest and Anaïs is hungry to learn more about this older, stoic woman.

Their meetings – even when they are short – are electrifying; they capture the excitement of falling in love, which is a shadow process in self-discovery. In Emilie’s presence, Anaïs is a different version of herself, more attentive, less scattered. For Emilie, Anaïs ignites a dormant passion, an energy that allows her to write feverishly and complete her book. DP Noé Bach’s sleepy, golden-colored palette becomes bubbly during scenes with the two women’s horny flirtation.

The couple eventually responds to their wishes and completes their love on a sparkling beach one lazy summer afternoon. It’s a dream for both of them, but it does not hold. As in her previous relationships, Anaïs, brave in her pursuit of pleasure, encounters constraints, projections, and practical encounters. A longing for love can only bring her so far before reality punctures the bubble. But Anaïs in love is not particularly interested in crushing our main character, who at the end of the film begins to see the power of his quirks. It’s really about her journey – one that I would without hesitation see again and again.

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