J’Attends Quelqu’un

February 7, 2010By Heidi EllisonArchive

Nice Slice of Life

Sabine (Florence Loiret), on the outside looking in. Photo: © Patrick Glaize.

J’Attends Quelqu’un, a sweet little film written and directed by Jérôme Bonnell, proves that the classic prescription for good writing – show, don’t tell – is also a great rule for screenwriting. Its lack of exposition and explanation is positively refreshing.

Luckily, Bonnell, who is only 30 years old, has the talent to make his story clear by just showing. J’Attends Quelqu’un, his third feature film, is set in a small town in France. Louis (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) owns the Cafe de la Paix (every French town has one), where all of the characters eventually show up. Something of a lecher (he is always trying to grab the ass of his waitress and any other attractive woman who gets in his way), he has been frequenting the local hooker, Sabine (Florence Loiret) for so long that they have established a comfortable friendship. His sister Agnès (Emmanuelle Devos), a schoolteacher, is married to Jean-Philippe (Eric Caravaca), a journalist who is a sweetheart of a guy but has a bad case of hypochondria.

Running through this simple story of the interactions and incidents in the everyday lives of these rather ordinary people is a mystery that adds an uneasy element of suspense: Who is the young hitchhiker who arrived in town at the beginning of the film and why has he been watching the house of a young couple with a baby?

This impeccably acted film (although Emmanuelle Devos overdoes the giggling; she is a wonderful actress but can sometimes be annoyingly overpresent) unfolds in a most natural and appealing manner. These are people we like in spite of their faults because they are shown from enough angles and in enough different situations to make them fully rounded characters.

My only complaint about this little gem is that the ending is a bit too neat, as if the director were afraid to trust his instinct for realism.

Heidi Ellison

© 2007 Paris Update

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