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Comme Une Image (Look At Me) (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of documentary (60 min). Photo gallery.

THE Oscar-nominated French director of The Taste of Others (Le Gout des Autres) was rightly rewarded with the best screenplay award at this year's Cannes Film Festival for her follow-up, Look At Me (Comme Une Image), a darkly comic look at the relationship between an egotistical writer and his neglected, overweight daughter.

The film is a beautifully-written, wonderfully performed ensemble comedy which tackles some fairly familiar themes in a fresh and inspiring fashion.

Marilou Berry stars as the 20-year-old Lolita, the overweight and under-confident daughter of self-obsessed author, Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri), who yearns for attention and approval to the point of obsession.

Dogged by the feeling that people are only interested in what she has to offer as a means of befriending her influential father, Lolita continually threatens to push them away, until events conspire, over the course of one summer, to provide her with a voice of her own.

First of all, there's Keine Bouhiza's Sebastien, a young man whom Lolita meets by chance in the street, and who gradually teaches her to open her eyes to the unpleasantness of many of the people around her, while falling in love with her himself.

And then there's Agnes Jaoui's singing teacher, Sylvia, who comes to befriend and encourage Lolita, despite being initially sceptical.

Through this friendship, Sylvia, too, is encouraged to realise how many of the people around her are shallow and egocentric, especially her husband, Pierre (Laurent Grevill), an emerging writer who falls under Etienne's spell and will stop at nothing to pander to his every need.

Comme Une Image, while certainly talky, boasts such an incisive script that viewers shouldn't mind investing time in the world that writer, director and stars, Jaoui and Bacri, have created.

It has something pertinent to say about all of the themes it explores, from notions of self-image, to the misplaced perceptions we have of others and the corrupting influence of fame.

Yet it does so without ever becoming overly dramatic or sentimental - a trait that many of Hollywood's screenwriters would do well to note.

Performance-wise, Berry is terrific as Lolita, particularly in the way she toys with viewers' emotions (she can be dislikable), while Bacri, as her father, is both spitefully funny and totally beyond redemption (particularly during his final moments).

Jauoi, too, excels, as Sylvia, quite possibly providing the film with its most identifiable and grounded character.

The film also boasts a terrific classical score, which merely serves to heighten the all-round enjoyment of proceedings.

It is a deliciously enjoyable affair that marks a triumph for all involved.

 

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