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aka - Des Vrais Mensonges
France 2010
Directed by
Pierre Salvadori
105 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Beautiful Lies

Synopsis: When a handsome handyman (Sami Bouajila) sends the hairdresser (Audrey Tautou) for whom he works an anonymous love letter. She copies it and sends it her depressed mother (Nathalie Baye) in an attempt to cheer her up. But sometimes good intentions don’t work out the way they’re expected to in life's comedy of errors.

I must admit that I am well and truly over the French rom-com with its seemingly wish-fulfilling portrayals of the sexual shenanigans of frustrated bourgeoisie. And though I’ll also admit that Audrey Tautou is quite cute I’ve never been swept away by her charms. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that underpinning Beautiful Lies is a good measure of credibility in dealing with the duplicitous relationship, intended or otherwise, between our hearts and minds.

Whilst the script, deftly written by Salvadori with Benoît Graffi, is the core of the film’s success, the performers deliver it well, slightly over-playing the parts, an approach which gives proceedings a nicely farcical quality. Often seen as an elegantly-composed Parisienne, Nathalie Baye stands out as the sexually-frustrated older woman who is a dupe to her need for love whilst Tatou, who also took the lead in Salvadori’s Priceless (2006) is winning as her uptight daughter. Sami Bouajila plays a more subdued role as variously the smitten admirer and the object of desire.

With its provincial setting and summery locations, Beautiful Lies is designed as light entertainment and although perhaps a little too long and with an ending that is as kitschily naff as only the French can make it (Erica Jong, anyone?), it largely succeeds.




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