Each and every year audiences in English-language territories are presented with a small handful of French romantic comedies to indulge in, and the vast majority maintain an ineffable sense of charm and enchantment, mawkish in their execution, but with a minimum contrivance; endearing and affectionate in their abiding to the tropes of the genre. Up For Love is the latest to hit screens outside of the European nation, and while the film thrives off a paramount gimmick, it’s one that wears somewhat thin as we progress throughout the narrative.
Virginie Efira plays Diane, a lawyer going through a tumultuous breakup with her ex-partner and colleague Bruno (Cedric Kahn). Amidst a row in a public setting, she hurries home, only to discover she had left her phone in a restaurant. But then she receives a call on the house number, and Alexandre (Jean Dujardin), the man who found her mobile, is attempting to arrange a means of returning it to her – and so proposes a date. After much flirting over the phone Diane anticipates a charming, handsome man to sweep her off her feet – and she’s not wrong. The only thing she hadn’t anticipated, however, is that he would be four foot tall. As they get to know each other and realise they share feelings for one another, Diane knows she must overcomer societal prejudices to enter into a relationship, which she finds harder than she had anticipated.
Though featuring a handful of indelible sequences that revel in the unspeakable charm that illuminates so much of the romantic cinema to derive from this particular region – such as the scene at a house party where the pair share their first dance to a disco track – regrettably the feature remains littered with cliched, unbearably sentimental scenes that abide by formula in a way that is frustrating and restrictive; not to mention the horrible choice of music that makes up this unfavourable soundtrack. Nonetheless, there remains an intriguing study on society, addressing our own internal conceitedness, to pose a hypothetical scenario as we question whether we too could date somebody who isn’t of a normal stature. However the frivolous approach taken by director Laurent Tirard persistently undermines the aforementioned comment on humanity, struggling to quite find a compatible balance between the romantic elements, and the more pointed take on the modern world.
Thankfully the film is saved, on many occasions, by the sheer likability of Efira, who carries this feature with a certain subtlety. While she’s matched at every corner by Dujardin, an actor who has an unrelenting outpour of charisma. Which, given the very nature of this narrative, is completely essential in allowing the story to unfold and to work, as we simply can’t think of any good reason why she shouldn’t date this gentle, kind and beguiling man, which adds to the internal conflict not only within the protagonist, but ourselves.