A French rom-com set against Paris’ most romantic boulevards, Alexandre Castagnetti’s Love Is In The Air sees passion reignited on the red-eye.
Up In The Air by Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Paris makes for a lovely backdrop. And Alexandre Castagnetti’s Love Is In The Air has them all – the Eiffel Tower, those oh-so-French restaurants at the Palais Royal, the bridges over the River Seine. For Castagnetti, it seems, is more in love with Paris than Antoine and Julie are with each other. And while the Parisian locations in this French romantic comedy might be made to measure for tastes on the other side of the Atlantic, there’s also something quite clever about this iconic backdrop – as Paris’ landmarks and boulevards become witnesses to the love between player Antoine and sculptor Julie. And so, upon Julie’s return to Paris, there’s something totemic about these dual icons of Paris and romantic comedy, as she rediscovers through the city her love for the man who broke her heart.
Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) lives between Paris and New York, wading through a battery of alarms and an avalanche of helpful post-it notes to return home to Paris to marry her safe and organised fiancé. Antoine (Nicolas Bedos) is a player, stumbling over the women and empties from the night before to make his flight home. Just. But when Julie is upgraded to business, she lands beside her old flame Antoine on his way back to Paris for a job interview. And as they recount their story to each other and their fellow travellers amid takeoff, on-flight service and turbulence, the sparks begin to fly.
A rom-com in the tradition of a French farce, Alexandre Castagnetti’s Amour & Turbulences is brightly coloured, whimsical and coy. But it’s largely supported by two charming pillars of performance from the irrepressible Ludivine Sagnier and the permanently stubbled Nicolas Bedos. The script gyrates around a clear-up of the misunderstandings and assumptions that led to the break-up between Antoine and Julie, leading the quarrelsome couple through the maze of lost love back into the light of an amour fou. For Julie, it’s ultimately a choice between a safe love of rules, idle conversation and holiday planning or a burning passion with a born romantic – dangerous but exciting. While for Antoine it’s true love – “the one” after a procession of one-night stands and a chance to settle down with a house in the country, land rover and mountain bikes. And pairing the couple with equal amounts of feist and dressing them in matching shades of beige – with her raincoat and his linen suit – they’re a screen couple that no-one can tear apart.
There are problems with the script – particularly in Julie’s character who is given the hang-ups of a jealous harridan, hallucinating a bevy of bare-breasted women surrounding her new beau, and suspicious of every text message and every smile, demanding Antoine delete his Facebook profile and almost his entire contact book. Even the sculptures she makes are feminised and vaguely mocked – a kind of decoupage scissored out of women’s magazines. Her only confidante is her men-mistrusting mother, while the men are so fiercely loyal to each other, his friendship with Hugo costs Antoine not only a good lay but also his one true love.
There are however also little touches which add a little depth – the most erotic moments of Julie and Antoine’s relationship revealed in silhouettes from the Kama Sutra. They’re often pictured as observers in their own story as they understand things for the first time, just like their business-class jury of listeners. And Castagnetti’s film is filled with quirky details such as Julie’s post-break-up alarm skull-and-crossbones ringtone or her emotional hinterland of a metro and kitchen all in decoupage. A light rom-com more in the vein of Pascal Chaumeil’s Heartbreaker than Régis Roinsard’s emancipatory Populaire, Alexandre Castagnetti’s Love Is In The Air is a breezy comedy as light as air. But with its realistic expectations of a five-year marriage, not without its own turbulence.
Love In The Air is released on 14th February 2014 in the UK