A girl wakes up in an apartment littered with sticky notes. On each note, a direction: Water the Plants, Open the Window, Feed the Hamster, etc. A guy wakes up handcuffed in an apartment with two strange women. Their paths intersect on a plane from New York to Paris. Circumstance seats them next to each other. Plot contrivances give them a past. Fasten your seatbelts; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Love is in the Air (Amour et Turbulences) is a French romantic comedy and, like most French romantic comedies, revolves primarily around sex. Watch enough of these, and you’ll begin to think that the French have better sex than Americans. Antoine (Nicolas Bedos) is a womanizing lawyer referred to as “Mr. Two Weeks” by the women in his life. The nickname is due to his lack of sexual arousal after two weeks with the same woman. His fellow passenger and ex-lover, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) has moved beyond Antoine and met her fiancé, Franck (Arnaud Ducret). Franck isn’t Mr. Perfect, more Mr. I’m-Tired-Of-Looking, and Antoine has re-entered Julie’s life in the nick of time. The wedding is on Saturday, but anyone who makes it 15 minutes into this movie without seeing that isn’t going to happen ought to have their head examined. It ends just like you think it will. If it didn’t, you would be right to demand your money back.
The story of how Antoine and Julie came together and fell apart is told to their fellow passengers. Neither paints the other in a particularly flattering light, but they (and we) see right through the façade. Antoine may be a booze guzzling, womanizing lawyer, but he has a soft spot for domesticity and a lot of affection for Julie. Julie is a whole lot tamer but is passionate and creative (she wants to be the next Andy Warhol). The two of them actually make for a perfect couple, but the occasional misunderstanding erects a wall between them—not a huge one, but one that gives them both pause. With a little help from their friends (and a few convenient scenes courtesy of screenwriters), Antoine and Julie will learn to stop pausing.
Describing the movie like this makes it sound incredibly formulaic and trite. Amour et Turbulances is both. The director and writers (all seven of them!) approach the material with an ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. What manages to keep this particular rendition interesting is that it simply throbs with sexuality—not pornography but honest-to-God sexuality. Each scene carries a charge—sometimes subtle, other times blunt, constantly corny—but always present. No one has sex on camera, but just beyond the lens, everyone seems to be doing it. When Antoine and Julie’s two-week relationship blossom and unfold, their intercourse is depicted with images from the Kama Sutra. It leaves little to the imagination without requiring the actors to perform hardcore pornography for us.
There is no shortage of romantic comedies on both sides of the Atlantic, and they have their moments and can be a lot of fun, but most are light fare. Little diversions that make a Saturday afternoon go by. Amour et Turbulences isn’t much more of a diversion from the rest, but it is a little more. Sometimes, a little more is more than enough.
Love is in the Air / Amour et turbulences (2013)
Directed By: Alexandre Castagnetti
Written By: Xavier Nemo, Julien Simonet, Nirina Ralanto, Brigitte Bémol, Alexandre Castagnetti, Nicolas Bedos
Based on a Scenario By: Vincent Angell
Produced By: Catherine Bozorgan, David Poirot, Julien Ralanto, Mathieu Robinet
Starring: Ludivine Sagnier, Nicolas Bedos, Jonathan Cohen, Arnaud Ducret, Lila Salet
Focus World, Not Rated, Running Time 96 minutes, Released January 7, 2014