LOVERS LIKE US: Key

Silly Romance, as a subdivision of Modern Courtship, certainly is fresher than Meaningful Relationships. That must be why it's funny to see Yves Montand delivering a pineapple surprise to Catherine Deneuve by knocking her down with a well-aimed desert, or attempting the physical impossibility of slapping her underwater. Part of the laughter is relief that they are not discussing how they fail to meet each other's needs.

The need of both, in "Lovers Like Us," is to escape tough mates and the semi-legal entanglements to grabby businesses. Montand is an inventor of perfumes, the creative center of an international conglomerate headed by his wife, who is anonymously subsidizing his island hermit existence in the hope of getting him back one day.Deneuve is some sort of night club employee who has engaged herself to a man who frightens her, and her refuge is to invade his refuge. The comedy between Montand and Deneuve is based on the conflict between his ingenious fussiness and her slapdash destructiveness. She is, in this, the clumsiest beauty ever to stumble across the screen breaking, dropping or otherwise wrecking everything she touches. She carries through the film, as booty, a Toulouse-Lautrec painting, the watching it being slowly destroyed is mesmerizing. Tony Roberts, as the picture's rightful owner, produces the best moment in the film: his facial expression as he delivers the final blow to the painting himself.

None of this is either new or great in the way of screen comedy, but it looks newly fashionable and effervescent. The fact that the two leads are pursuing objectives - however fanciful - other than happiness or each other must have something to do with it.