Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at most TV shows and movies these days, where almost everyone, with the exception of the obvious villains, has to be likable. In real life, people are vain, egotistical, self-centered and perfectly willing to put themselves before anyone else in the blink of an eye. “Look at Me” is a very funny new French comedy that recognizes this by depicting the cheerful ease with which people are willing to stomp upon friends and loved ones to achieve their desires.The central character is Lolita (Marilou Barry), a depressed young woman struggling with a weight problem, a desire to be a singer and a group of friends and relatives whose interest in her may be less than genuine. Her father (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a self-absorbed jerk who gets away with his arrogant behavior because he is also a famous novelist. Her new stepmother (Virginie Desamauts) is a flighty babe who is barely older than she is. There is a friend (Keine Bouhiza) who may be interested in her but could just as easily be interested in her father’s money. Finally, there is her music teacher (played by co-writer/director Agnes Jaoui), who can barely feign interest in Lolita’s musical abilities until learning the identity of her famous father.<
To reveal what happens when all these characters are thrown together wouldn’t be fair, since much of the impact of the film depends on what they say and do to each other. However, the film, which won the Best Screenplay award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, is too smart to play along the expected lines. Instead of making Lolita a poor little thing who is cruelly mistreated by everyone, for example, Jaoui allows her to give as good as she gets–she is especially cruel towards the potential boyfriend and her stepmother, not realizing that their overtures of friendship are genuine (as if she is so used to insincere behavior that she can no longer recognize the real thing).By giving the material little twists like that, Jaoui avoids turning “Look at Me” into a tedious exercise in bitterness and instead transforms the material into a compelling comedy of exceedingly ill manners that somehow manages to be strangely touching in the end as well.<
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 New York Film Festival. For more in the 2004 New York Film Festival series, click here.