Another View of Tautou

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2003

"AMELIE" MEETS "Psycho" in "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not," a very clever psychological thriller starring everyone's favorite gamine, the French actress Audrey Tautou, as an art student with a fatal attraction for an older, married man.

Writer-director Laetitia Colombani's feature debut starts off straightforward enough. Angelique (Tautou) loves Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), a dashing cardiologist who she thinks is about to leave his pregnant wife (Isabelle Carre) for her. David (Clement Sibony), a sweet medical student who's obviously gaga over Angelique, is a far better -- not to mention more age-appropriate -- match, but she merely sees him as a friend. When her romance with Loic starts unraveling, Angelique does too.

Halfway through the film, just as our heroine undertakes one last, desperate act, Colombani stops the movie, rewinds back to the film's first frame and plays the story over again, this time from Loic's point of view.

And what a different point of view it is.

It's important that I not say too much about this here. One of the deepest pleasures of Colombani's film is watching how brilliantly Loic and Angelique's versions of reality overlap and diverge, yielding utterly unique interpretations of identical events. Suffice to say that, just as there are two sides to every story, Colombani's film presents us with alternate realities, one of which is clearly unhinged.

This wouldn't be much of a payoff were it not for Tautou's mold-breaking performance. The actress finally gets to sink her teeth into a role that calls for her to do more than make everyone fall in love with her. As Angelique, she's the anti-Amelie, a dark, delusional obsessive who is as pretty as she is mad.

"He Loves Me" may not change the world, but it's deeply creepy and richly satisfying.

HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT (Unrated, 92 minutes) -- Contains some violence and mature themes. In French with English subtitles. At Visions Cinema/Bistro/Lounge.

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