Starring Audrey Tautou, whom I love, this French-language effort is hyped on the U.S. poster as the "new romantic comedy" from the star of AMELIE. The implied comparison is misleading, to say the least, as this film is a considerably more down-to-earth effort than Jenuet's epic neo-fairy tale--and has less to recommend it.But it's always a pleasure to behold the elfin charms of Audrey Tautou, who gets plenty of opportunities here to stare google-eyed at the camera. She plays a fashion model, Michelle, on a spiritual quest: though raised a Catholic, she's beginning to flirt with Buddhism. Her religious quest takes another detour when she meets a charming, handsome veternarian (Edouard Baer) who happens to be Jewish. He's not exactly a practicing Jew--in fact, he avoids the subject whenever he can--but Michelle nonetheless begins to contemplate converting to his religion to win him over.
It's a wonderfully simple setup to a film that, alas, tends to drift away from its narrative line at regular intervals. Michelle's endless tiffs with her sort-of boyfriend become tedious before long; these two spend too much time running in circles around each other. The storyline tends to go in circles as well, and it loses all momentum well before the end. It's also unclear why Michelle is so interested in his religion when he himself isn't--why on Earth does she think becoming a Jew will bring them closer?
Director Pascale Bailly is strangely addicted to blackouts; not only do they seem unnecessary, but they invariably come a full second before they should, giving too many scenes a rather uncomfortably clipped rhythm. But the film is charming in fits and starts, partly due to some cute culture-clash gags (Tautou casually lighting a cigarette on one of those Hannkkah candles), but mainly due to Tautou's doe-eyed presence. She's not just a pretty face; she effortlessly exudes a certain playful charisma that eludes many actresses more beautiful than she.In sum, a half-successful comedy.