Film Review – ‘Anaïs in Love’ Tells an Energetic Story of Young Lust and Romance

Film Review – ‘Anaïs in Love’ Tells an Energetic Story of Young Lust and Romance

It’s difficult to compare any two relationships since each is extremely dependent on the people involved and the way in which they view their connection. Even the two members of a couple may perceive their bond differently, which can lead to strife and ultimately a breakup, and, alternatively, the presence of contradictory or complementary personalities can provide much-needed balance. As people grow up, they see and learn what’s important to build a lasting relationship, a concept explored in the lighthearted and endearing Anaïs in Love.

Form her very first moment on screen, it’s clear that Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) doesn’t have her life together. Her bubbliness and chattiness only contribute to that assessment, since she’s very capable of talking someone’s ear off as she deflects a conversation about rent payments, tries to put up a smoke detector, or checks in with her boyfriend about where they’re headed, almost unaware that they are trying to discuss something more serious. When she begins an affair with a married man, Daniel (Denis Podalydès), she finds herself even more intrigued by someone else: his wife Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi).

Anaïs in Love
Anaïs Demoustier © Les Films Pelléas. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

This film focuses heavily on academia and writing, which is one of the reasons that Anaïs is attracted to Emilie, a novelist whose work she greatly admires. Though she is supposed to be doing a good deal of the legwork for one academic conference, Anaïs is hopelessly distracted by the idea of spending time with Emilie, who is at another academic conference. Even if she’s not supposed to fit in with the other people present in that setting, Anaïs is just as alluring to Emilie, but in a different way, a young mind eager to learn and heap praise upon an art that many might believe is doomed to be abandoned and forgotten by future generations.

Demoustier brings a delightfully buoyant energy to the character who shares her first name, deeply passionate about whatever it is that interests her in that moment and ready to commit fully until something else comes along. She never means to be a bad person, and, though she sets up numerous dominoes to fall and leave others facing consequences she will not have to, she does approach each situation with as much honesty and directness as possible given the fact that much of what she does is based on a lie.

Anaïs in Love
Anaïs Demoustier and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi © Karl Colonnier. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Opposite Demoustier, two accomplished French actors, Tedeschi and Podalydès, portray characters who are more than just fulfillments of a fantasy or one-dimensional cutouts of successful adulthood. Emilie and Daniel are both layered and flawed, and the ways in which they interact with Anaïs vary based on how they see her fitting into their world. Emilie is intrigued at first and sees an overeager fan who shows up repeatedly, where Daniel seems more surprised and relieved that a younger woman is looking at him at all with any sort of curiosity.

The title Anaïs in Love suggests that what its young protagonist is feeling is indeed love, while, predictably, both Emilie and Daniel might tell her that her emotions are far more fleeting and she has yet to experience what life can really deliver as she ages. Even if a happy ending with either one of her two matches seems unlikely, the journey is one rich with conversations and scenes that are equally entertaining, uncomfortable, and rewarding. At thirty years old, “coming of age” may not be the right way to describe Anaïs’ experiences, but this film does chart a worthwhile and relatable course for its effervescent and charming protagonist.

Grade: B+

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

Anaïs in Love is currently playing in theaters and will be released on demand on May 6th.

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