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3 reviews, 6 user ratings

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How much do you love me?
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A Lot More Than The Rest Of The Film, Fair Monica"
2 stars

A couple of months ago, I received a box set of five Brigitte Bardot movies that she made during the 1950's and 1960's, most of them silly sex comedies, and while I was watching them, two things came to mind. One was the inescapable fact that they were, for the most part, fairly terrible–although the French are perfectly adept at making sexy movies and funny movies, they seem incapable of combining the two–and the other was the equally inescapable fact that even though they were inexcusably awful movies, they were still more or less worth watching simply because of Bardot’s presence. Even though the films themselves were nearly unwatchable, you couldn’t take your eyes off of her. In many ways, Bertrand Blier’s new film “How Much Do You Love Me?” is like a modern-day version of those old Bardot films–it tells a stupid, dreary and pseudo-outrageous story that is nowhere near as funny or shocking as it clearly believes itself to be and yet, because of the palpable physical presence of Italian sex bomb Monica Bellucci in the central role, it is likely that most viewers will be too distracted by her pronounced physical charms to realize just how flat and unconvincing the rest of the movie truly is.

As the film begins, sad sack clerk Francois (Bernard Campan) wanders into a bar and strikes up a conversation with the gorgeous Daniela (Bellucci), a prostitute who offers to let him buy her a bottle of champagne, if you know what I mean. Instead, Francois offers an even more intriguing counter-proposal. He has just won over 4.5 million euros in the lottery and wants to hire her at a rate of 100,000 euros a month to live with him for as long as the money holds out–perhaps not surprisingly, she immediately accepts the offer. Although this may sound like the setup for a straightforward “Pretty Woman” knock-off, there are a couple of hitches to Francois’ plan. For starters, he has a bad heart and best friend/doctor Andre (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) takes one look at Daniela and realizes that her mere presence could conceivably kill him. Then it turns out that Daniela is not a prostitute because circumstances have forced her into the life but because she genuinely enjoys the work–after a few days with Francois, she realizes that she misses the excitement and goes back to the bar for more work. Finally, there is the late-inning appearance of Charly (Gerard Depardieu), a tough guy who may be Daniela’s actual husband, is clearly her pimp and is not willing to give her up to Francois–unless, of course, the right dollar amount can be agreed upon.

The ingredients for a provocative sex comedy are all on display in “How Much Do You Love Me?,” but as the film plods onward, it becomes clearly evident that Blier, who previously outraged audiences throughout the world with such films as “Get Out Your Handkerchiefs,” “Buffet Froid” and “Too Beautiful For You,” doesn’t have a clear idea of how to put them together this time around. The characters, for the most part, are not very interesting–Francois is pretty much a non-entity throughout and Charly spends more time telling us what a threatening guy he is than he does in actually making us believe his claims. Blier’s stabs at outrageous comedy, such as Daniela’s avowed preference for the life she has been living, an argument between Francois and his neighbor about the volume and validity of Daniela’s orgasms and the strange fates that befall those who try to come between Francois and Daniela, are funny in theory but are executed so poorly that they will inspire nothing from viewers other than embarrassed silence.

And yet, while I cannot really recommend watching “How Much Do You Love Me?” at all, I must admit that I didn’t exactly have an awful time sitting through it, at least not during the scenes in which Bellucci is front and center. This is a role that is far beneath her talents as an actress and at time, it almost makes her character in “Shoot Em Up” feel nuanced and carefully created by comparison. However, while the part is as flimsily constructed as many of the outfits she almost wears throughout, her mere presence infuses her scenes with the kind of heedless erotic energy that the rest of the proceedings are otherwise lacking. Although even she can’t quite make “How Much Do You Love Me?” worth watching in the end, those who want to see it simply to get an eyeful of her (and I suspect that will be the vast majority of the audience) will not come away disappointed. However, I can only hope that those with weak hearts will consult with their physicians before buying a ticket.

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originally posted: 11/09/07 17:30:42
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User Comments

7/23/11 mindy what terrific writing, stephen 4 stars
2/14/11 tony Gieske Who did the beautiful tenor saxophone cues? 4 stars
1/04/08 Enzo Baker A delightful movie about desire, love, and magic. 4 stars
7/28/06 Veronique A Dawson very sensuous film. appreciates the female form. very funny at times. 4 stars
5/03/06 Anthony very French 4 stars
4/15/06 Toad Sheehan A French celebration of women's sexuality; happily anti-Hollywood formulae. 4 stars
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  13-Apr-2006 (MA)

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