I love French films. Love love love them. Every time I feel it’s silly to group a whole country of films together, another one charms me yet again. These films have a way of never letting you know how the story is going to end. Too many movies pull back, and it’s easy to see what the full story is. It’s never fun when you know how the movie is going to end or what the message of the movie is before it’s had a chance to sell the point.
The best way to accomplish this is to create a set of completely realized characters who may not succeed. “Romantic Anonymous” is easily one of the best romantic comedies I’ve seen in years because by the time it was halfway through, I was cheering for the leads to get together and wincing when they messed it up for each other, yet again.
The two poor unfortunate souls are Angélique Delange (Isabella Carré), who looks like the French Maria Bamford, and Jean-René Van Den Hugde (Benoît Poelvoorde), who looks like the French Peter Davison. Peter Davison played the fifth Doctor Who. “Doctor Who” is this … have I really not encouraged you readers to watch this show yet?
Anyways, Angélique goes to an emotional relief group where she talks about her overwhelming insecurities. Jean-René talks to a therapist about his fear of women. The two of them meet when she enters his struggling chocolate shop searching for a job. She accidentally gets a position as a sales rep instead of a chef.
The neurotic duo continues to interact under the most awkward circumstances. Their first dinner together is so painful to endure that more people will cover their eyes from embarrassment than they would being scared by a “Saw” flick. The reason why all of the scenes feel organic is because they never stray from the characters’ capabilities.
It’s never clear where the story goes next. Secrets are revealed earlier than expected, brilliant new ideas are introduced, and then it all ends in a place where it was always supposed to go. Every good story should let the characters drive it to its organic destination. The best ones are when you want to revisit the characters years later to see how their lives have changed. “Romantics Anonymous” is how to do the genre right.