Les Ambitieux

A Book in a Box

February 6, 2007By Heidi EllisonFilm

Les Ambitieux, directed by Catherine Corsini, stars Karin Viard in a near-perfect portrayal of a tough (but attractive, of course) book editor for a major French publisher. Judith is a man-eater who uses men for sex and dumps them as soon as they start showing signs of attachment. Things change, however, when she meets Julien (Eric Caravaca), an aspiring novelist from the provinces whose book she has rejected without ever having read it.

The depiction of the Parisian publishing world is spot on and hilarious: when Judith, who has treated Julien like a speck of dirt until she needs a favor from him, critiques his novel and advises him on how to write, you’d swear she had read his manuscript with great attention.

Julien sells his bookstore in a small town, leaves his girlfriend and moves to Paris to carry on an affair with Judith and write his second novel, and therein lies the plot. His new novel is based on the adventurous life of Judith’s father, whose papers are delivered to her in a metal box at the beginning of the film. Judith wants nothing to do with the memory of the father who rejected her, and Julien doesn’t bother to tell her that he has stolen her father’s life story for his own purposes.

The plot really doesn’t make an awful lot of sense, and the ending is confusing and disappointingly clichéd, but getting there in the company of these characters has been so enjoyable that you don’t really care.

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