Review: The (Ex)perience of Love
- CANNES 2023: Ann Sirot and Raphaël Balboni jubilantly try their hand at romantic comedy, gleefully transgressing the codes, once again staging their taste for constraint
Remy and Sandra love each other. They could see themselves ending up happy, with lots of children. Or at least one. Except that their bodies are struggling to fulfil this desire, at least biologically. Fortunately, the World Congress of Gynecologists has just revealed a brand new syndrome, for which they have come up with a radical treatment that may well bear fruit: to free themselves from the "past loves syndrome" that seems to affect them, Remy and Sandra will have to sleep with all their exes again. This is where The (Ex)perience of Love [+see also:
interview: Ann Sirot & Raphael Balboni
film profile], Ann Sirot and Raphaël Balboni's new film, selected for a special screening at the 62nd Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival, begins.
Of course, the situation quickly becomes more complicated when Rémy and Sandra realise that they are not quite equal when it comes to their sexual and sentimental hunting chart – a chart which, moreover, takes the form of a luminous frieze on the screen, decorated with Polaroids and evolving comments which punctuate the narrative. And this succession of consensual extramarital adventures will not have the same effect on one as on the other, between weariness and emancipation.
Sirot and Balboni twist the genre and the codes, having fun with malice in rethinking the romantic comedy, by returning to a creative process that is dear to them, that of constraint. Constraint of a fanciful basic premise (sleeping with people other than one's partner to succeed in making a family), constraint of a playful and dreamlike aesthetic motif (sex scenes fantasised as small poetic tableaux), constraint of a form punctuated by jump cut editing and the frontality of long takes.
This taste for ellipses and jump cuts is very effective when it comes to sharing in the intimacy of the couple or of the lovers, the conversations where we go in circles instead of getting to the point, letting the silences shine, those in which love and complicity lodge themselves, where laughter surfaces, but also emotion. We were promised a romantic comedy and the terms of the contract have been fulfilled, we cry a little, we laugh a lot, and more importantly, we are delighted by this bold move: to dare make a feel-good movie, with a transgressive happy ending that joyously revisits the image of the perfect family.
A duo full of good chemistry was needed to play Rémy and Sandra. It is the case for Lazare Gousseau and Lucie Debay, as to the comedic nature of the former the laughing and analytical nature of the latter responds. Laid bare as much literally as symbolically by the comedic setup created by the filmmakers, they animate these little games of love with naturalness and mischievousness, their complementarity finding a successful echo in the many secondary characters that they meet on their way, as well as the original score, which lightly balances between baroque and electronic music.
(Translated from French)
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