In Beautiful Lies, Audrey Tautou plays Emilie (an homage to Amelie, or just a coincidence?). She is a hairdresser with her own business, which she co-owns with her friend Sylvia. Jean (Bouajila) is the unassuming handy man for the salon, who admires Emilie from afar, but would never admit his devotion to her.
One evening, he plucks up the courage to write her an anonymous letter, professing his love and how heart broken he is that he will never be able to possess her as his own. Emilie (thinking it is a letter from the old man next door) dismisses this without a second thought and throws it in the bin, much to the disappointment of Jean.
We learn that Emilie’s mother, Maddy (Baye), is still lamenting the fact that her husband left her for a younger woman and she is no longer his muse. This is depressing Emilie no end and she would like nothing more than her mother to be happy again. She fishes the letter out of the bin and copies it word for word before sending it on to her mother as a faux anonymous lover. What follows is a woven web of lies, mistaken identity and good intensions that see poor Jean stuck in the middle pretending to be the mysterious lover of Maddy, rather than that of her daughter.
Tautou plays a young woman who is trying to do the right thing and her heart is definitely in the right place, but most of her actions just make her out to be a bit of a bitch. She doesn’t paint herself in a very good light to Jean, but he loves her despite that. She even admits to breaking up with a previous boyfriend, due to him being more educated than her. She fires Jean because he is too smart, rehires him to keep up the lies towards her mother, fires him again for not wanting to carry it on and so it continues. Jean feels he has to court and seduce Maddy, as it will be the only way he will be able to get closer to Emilie herself. Emilie really doesn’t deserve Jean, but there’s a niggling feeling that they should be together.
Sami Bouajila is a great actor. Jean is a very nice bloke and just wants to please everyone, even if it means that it puts him out in some way. Nathalie Baye is extremely funny and very quirky. She creates such a believable character in Maddy that some of the scenes with Jean are incredibly cringe-worthy. Even the supporting actresses in the hairdressers have some fantastic mannerisms. Sylvia thinks Emilie is a bit of a loon and keeps threatening to leave and the receptionist, Paulette, is meek and shy and the slightest bad vibe aimed her way makes her break down in tears.
The writing is spot on. It is co-written by Benoit Graffin and Pierre Salvadori, who also directs. It’s very much in the same vein as Amelie, where as Emilie wants to do the best thing for everyone, with not so desirable results. It just doesn’t quite reach the magnitude of Amelie, but it’s really not far off. Beautiful Lies is incredibly charming and funny. There are some excellent laugh out loud moments and it proves that the French are creating some excellent cinema at the moment.
The disc has a short, but very sweet little interview with Audrey Tautou talking about her experiences during filming and her thoughts on the movie. Beautiful Lies is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 7th November 2011
DIRECTOR: PIERRE SALVADORI
STARS: AUDREY TAUTOU, SAMI BOUAJILA, NATHALIE BAYE
RUNTIME: 105 MINS APPROX
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