Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 1, 2005 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
In French with English subtitles, Agnes Jaoui’s Look At Me (Comme Une Image) is a chatty, but very wise dramedy.
The highly proficient director and co-writer here with longtime partner Jean-Pierre Bacri is quite observant on the way people can have their way with others in relationships. It’s mostly set in the world of Parisian literati with much choral music on the soundtrack for obvious reasons and will appeal most to sophisticated art houses.
Lolita (Marilou Berry) is a student vocalist who looks like a chubby Ricki Lake well before her talk-show gig. Lolita has self-image problems because in her country being overweight stands out more than in the U.S. She wants to be a chanteuse but doubts whether she has what it takes.
Having an arrogant, conceited father, Etienne (Bacri) who is a successful author and publisher doesn’t help the 20-year-old Lolita. His pet name for her is “my big girl” and after a usual cheery greeting a typical lunch would be on his mobile phone and even denying her presence in a conversation. When people warm up to Lolita, she wonders if they are interested in her or trying to connect with her popular dad.
It turns out that Etienne’s second wife and a mother, Karin (Virginie Desarnauts), is not much older than Lolita, and is introduced deceptively to almost seem as if she’s her gorgeous sister. Jaoui nicely casts herself as Lolita’s singing teacher, Sylvia, who initially wants to cut back on practice time because it is putting some stress on her home life.
When Sylvia figures out who Lolita’s father is, Look At Me becomes more witty and complex. Sylvia and her struggling novelist husband Pierre (Laurent Greville) will spend a weekend in the country with Lolita’s family. Pierre will need backing for his latest novel by Etienne and there’s a journalist named Sebastien (Keine Bouhiza) who piques Lolita’s interest. He has his own business plans but may be swayed by the best-selling author’s presence.
A chamber concert where Lolita has a solo leads to a fulfilling denouement off of the uncaring parent acted with much precision by Bacri. There’s a sharp, perceptive attitude of social issues, which is reinforced by the wonderfully subtle support by Jaoui and Bouhiza. Look At Me is convincing in how the emotions through interaction show how incidental the storyline is to how the characters are realized. After the wisdom she displayed in The Taste of Others, Jaoui continues to bring style to upper middle class Paris, a voice coach who is redoubtable with weighty issues.
|Look at Me||B+||B+|