La Fabrique des Sentiments

Ticking Clock, High-Speed Dates

February 19, 2008By Heidi EllisonFilm

Although Eloïse (Elsa Zylberstein) cries a lot during La Fabrique des Sentiments, a new film about a single, clock-ticking woman (yes, another one!), it’s hard to feel the emotion behind her mask-like face (which the camera is closely trained on most of the time) or even to understand why she’s crying.

True, we see her signing up for speed-dating (the eponymous “Factory of Sentiments”) and attending those embarrassing sessions in a colorfully lit club that looks like a modern version of hell, and we know that she’s worried that a benign tumor in her brain will make her sterile even though her doctor assures her it won’t, but we really don’t know what’s wrong with her as we follow her from date to date and love affair to love affair and wonder just what it is she wants.

In the meantime, we have to watch a lot of gratuitous scenes that add nothing to our understanding of or sympathy for Eloïse. She goes to the steam baths a couple of times with her best friend, for example, presumably so that the men in the audience who have been dragged to the film by their female partners will be placated by the sight of naked women soaping each other up and lounging around seductively. A long dream sequence that includes a life-sized stuffed green dinosaur beckoning her through a door and intimations of kinky sex and lesbianism is as embarrassing as the speed-dating scenes and confuses us even more about Eloïse’s motives. Totally devoid of humor and suspense, this movie, directed by Jean-Marc Moutout, takes itself and its star far too seriously.

By the surprise ending, La Fabrique, which was heavily hyped in Paris in the weeks before it opened, has become even more baffling and profoundly irritating. The final scene seems to negate everything that has come before until you start to remember little hints (so subtle that they were easily ignored) thrown out here and there that perhaps Eloïse has a lot in common with Carla Bruni (who famously said, “I am bored to death by monogamy”). But by then you have long ceased caring and just wish that the film, which is one hour and 44 minutes long, had gone by as quickly as a speed date.

Reader Orawan Lunchanavanich writes: I just saw the movie last night at the Bangkok French Film Festival. I expected the good time I get from Hollywood movies once in a while. However, the movie was confusing, especially the ending scene. My friend was so upset that I had to promise her that I’d try to find out what was going on in the ending. I agree with you, we were totally lost!


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