Sometimes all you want from a film – and no more so than from one which claims to be a romantic comedy – is something which lets you switch off from the world and forget your troubles for a short while. The new French film Up For Love (2016) – directed by Laurent Tirard, and featuring Virginie Efira and Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin – does just that.
Diane (Efira), a beautiful and successful lawyer has everything you’d want in life, except one thing – true love. One day, as a result of a series of bizarre events, she finds herself on a date with a handsome and talented architect called Alexandre (Dujardin) who is all she could have hoped for in a man. Apart from one small point – he’s only 4’ 5” tall. Can Diane overcome her – and everyone else’s – ideas of what is ‘right’, and see Alexandre for what he really is, or is their romance destined to fall short of expectations?
Seldom does a film come along which is quite simply, a joy from beginning to end. From the moment Diane first meets with Alexandre – barely managing to disguise her surprise at his height – via their first date which consists of a parachute jump, and Diane’s difficulty at choosing clothing for her new boyfriend, to the final heartfelt conclusion, there is hardly a minute passes without the film bringing a smile to your face. It works so well however because it faces prejudices and misconceptions, which we would all likely feel, head on, defusing them in a witty manner which manages to show that if we dig deep enough, everyone is basically looking for the same thing – acceptance.
It’s perhaps surprising that a comedy which revolves round one ‘joke’ – focusing on what is generally perceived as a physical disability – could hold your attention for its duration. Up For Love manages to do this however because it allows you, the viewer, to laugh at a subject which it is generally frowned upon to make fun of – someone’s height. The good thing though is that it is not the diminutive Alexandre at whom we are laughing, but rather the people who are laughing at him. Most of the time the tables are turned, with those pointing at Alexandre and ridiculing him behind his back frequently being made to look the fools. When these situations arise Alexandre manages – as is often the case with people suffering from what is perceived as some form of physical drawback – to defuse them with an acid sharp, dry wit. It also helps that he is successful, rich and generally loved and appreciated by all those who know him, as well as incredibly handsome and stylish – in a laid back continental fashion.
Some things grate a little; the soundtrack consists completely of English songs which sit a little uncomfortably with a French language film, whilst occasionally you are conscious of the special effects which magically shrink the 5’ 11’ Dujardin by a foot and a half. Everything else though more than compensates for these shortcomings. Being a French film everyone and everything – even the villain of the part in the form of Diane’s ex-husband Bruno (played by the broody Cédric Kahn) oozes an effortless sense of elegance. From Diane’s chic and ever changing wardrobe to Alexandre’s to die for farmhouse style home, the people here inhabit a world where even those who face challenges in their lives do so in an environment which doubtless makes the hardships a little easier to bear.
Ultimately Up For Love is the story of two people who face a problem which confronts many couples – ie. proving whether their love is for real; can they accept each others foibles and insecurities, whilst managing to ignore other people’s prejudices? Only then do they – like Diane and Alexandre – discover that true love does indeed conquer all.
Director: Laurent Tirard
Writers: Marcos Carnevale, Laurent Tirard, Grégoire Vigneron
Stars: Virginie Efira, Jean Dujardin, Bruno Gomila, Cédric Kahn,
César Domboy, Edmonde Franchi, Manoëlle Gaillard, Stéphanie Papanian
Runtime: 98 mins