Broken English

It’s really rare that you see a movie about people who could be you doing things that you could be doing in a non-glamorous and yet romantic way. It’s like your own life (or imagined life) just a tiny bit spiced up without turning it into an implausible Hollywood piece that stars the handsomest and prettiest stars and has you into a euphoric state: the aneasthetized life we all like to live sometimes where there’s money and laughter and a future and sex and music and perfection. But the movies that have all this come and go, leaving no trace. Not this one.

Parker Posey is amazing as the lonely woman in her thirties who copes with anxiety attacks on top of her embitterment regarding the entire race of men: whoever she meets is either in a relationship, or was just in a relationship and is too sensitive to start a new one, or is great/single/sexy/perfect but leaves the country in a few days. I’ve always loved her characters but Nora Wilder is her dream role.

Melvil Poupaud plays Julien, the irresistible guy not only because of his being French: he’s tall, dark, handsome, and extremely flirty. Except that he turns out to be a real sweetheart with feelings and tact. (The way he reminds me of the late Gérard Philipe is uncanny.) No wonder Nora falls for him. And then he goes back to Paris, leaving her alone and wondering whether her life will forever be a string of miserably failing encounters with the other sex.

Later, she takes herself and her best friend (who struggles with her marriage) and they go to Paris to look for Julien. They lose his number but nothing daunted, they start living their own little touristy-American lives for a few days. After all, it is Paris… the city of love.

Nora is left on her own (her decision) and after random encounters with nice Frenchmen, she is on her way to the airport: reality calls or… maybe not, as Julien happens to get on the same subway. At this point, I was torn between a bitter-sweet ending with no Julien, and Nora walking off into the sunset of Paris (kindof a belated coming of age story, you know) and him miraculously bumping into her. Voilá, the miracle hit, but I wasn’t disappointed. The embarrassed look on his face when she says hi, and then the minutes that follow their unspoken thoughts, fears, questions make up for the improbability of all of this happening. Then, Julien takes her into a bar and asks her why she was there and if she wanted to stay. Her answer I’ll leave a secret, in case you wanna see the movie for yourself. It’s worth seeing. Zoe Cassavettes directed it, and she’s the daughter of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands (also playing in the movie) so, yeah, she’s got the genes, and she’s got the style. The scenes are sharp and fresh, the dialogues are great, the characters feel so real I felt like watching a parallel life, a real one. I rooted for Nora and Julien because they could be me, you, anyone who’s struggling to find that special someone, anyone who’s lonely and lost. I believe in miracles and fate, and this movie displays quite a lot of both: strange “coincidental” encounters and even a fortune teller. Heck, why not? Reality is so much stranger than fiction.