In a nutshell: Entertaining and amusing, but the quirky set-up in which neighbours on either side of an apartment wall fall in love sight unseen is not exploited to its full potential.
Blind Date features: Clovis Cornillac, Melanie Bernier, Lilou Fogli, Philippe Duquesne, Gregoire Oestermann
Director: Clovis Cornillac
Writers: Lilou Fogli, Clovis Cornillac, Tristan Schulmann, Mathieu Oullion
2015-16 Lotterywest Perth Film Festival season dates:
Somerville: 21-27 Dec, 8pm
Joondalup Pines: 29 Dec-3 Jan, 8pm
This French romantic comedy has a theatrical feel about it, and as such makes no attempt to simulate a believable real-world situation. Set mostly in adjacent rooms of an apartment complex, one occupied by reclusive misanthropic puzzles inventor Machin (Clovis Cornillac), the other by a concert pianist whom he names Machine (Mélanie Bernier), it puts a quirky spin on the well-worn rom-com notion of opposites attracting.
The all-consuming creative pursuits of these neighbours set them on a collision course from the outset, the noise of Machin’s tools and Machine’s piano practice passing effortlessly and distractingly through the thin walls that divide them. They arrive at a compromise whereby each agrees to confine their activities to agreed-upon times. However, unable to bear Machine’s interpretation of Chopin, Machin blurts out his ideas on where she’s going wrong. Ironically, in breaking their non-interference agreement with his audacious criticism, he frees her to express herself musically in a far more sensual manner.
This is a narrative pivot point. The former antagonists begin to communicate through the walls, which no longer divide, instead functioning as a conduit of ever-more intimate discourse. A romantic relationship develops to the point of commitment – except that the lovers decide to remain anonymous, moving their beds together on either side of the wall, and even having a dinner party at adjacent tables to which they invite their besties as blind dates (no prizes for guessing where that ends up).
While the set-up is ludicrously contrived (actually not so ludicrous when you think about internet romance), it works in the context of the film, putting the performers through their paces, providing some humorous moments and making for entertaining viewing. Unfortunately, the opportunity to investigate the most interesting aspect of the set-up – how the lovers’ relationship might change on removal of the dividing wall and the anonymity it protects – is not taken up.
Movie website: en.unifrance.org/movie/39136/blind-date
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