Up For Love (2016)

French romcom by Laurent Tirard that hinges on a mismatched physical relationship that subverts the conventional romantic norm.

Short Story

by Alexa Dalby

Up for Love

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Lawyer Diane (Belgian television star Virginie Efira) arrives home and gets a phone call from Alexandre (Jean Dujardin, Oscar winner for The Artist), the man who found the phone she just left in the restaurant after a row with her ex-husband. After a flirty conversation, they arrange to meet the next day so he can return it. Diane waits for him with high expectations that he is her Prince Charming. When he arrives, she’s shocked to see he is a little person, only 4’6”. But he’s also a rich, successful architect who is handsome, funny, sexy, charming and almost superhumanly considerate. There’s an instant attraction between them and Alexandre is determined to pull out all the stops to overturn Diane’s prejudices at their physical mismatch – on their first date he literally sweeps her off her feet by taking her sky diving.

The film plays on a series of visual gags and verbal gaffes based on Alexandre’s height – or lack of it – and Diane’s embarrassment at the reactions she anticipates to her new partner from her friends and family. Her ex-husband (Cédric Kahn), who is still her business partner in her law practice, is mocking. Her mother (Manoëlle Gaillard) is so taken aback she drives the wrong way up a busy road – a lengthy slapstick sequence – and there’s a running gag involving the boisterous welcome home Alexandre’s giant dog gives him. Dujardin is digitally shrunk so that he’s child-size and his feet dangle comically from normal-sized chairs, but when he’s standing next to Efira their proportions are all wrong, and when they’re in close up, his head is strangely adult size.

Up For Love is a remake of Corazon de Leon, a 2014 film by Argentina’s Marcos Carnevale, adapted by director Laurent Tirard (Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia) and titled Un Homme à la hauteur in French. Although the underlying message is anti-disability discrimination, it’s hard not to feel embarrassed at some of the broad humour. Even so, you want this power couple to get together in the end and it’s a watchable, even if rather flawed, romcom.

Up For Love is released in the UK on 5 August 2016.

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