Silver Screenings

The FIU 17th Miami Film Festival

Love Tangles
Love Tangles is the first movie from Olivier Péray, with a plot that is light and affable and manages to maintain a sophisticated equilibrium despite the unnecessary complexity of its structure. The film deals with basic human emotions of desire, love, and seduction. It's a charming story with charming characters and situations that are set against Paris in springtime, when the bare legs of women give special splendor to the city. Love is obviously in the air as Lionel, a young and attractive publisher, is surrounded by two beautiful women on a café terrace. His story is told by his best friend, Alain, to a young stranger, Sophie, both of whom are sitting at another table watching. Lionel is a seducer, who is called a "sex machine" by his comrades. His success with women provokes Alain's jealousy and, as such, he makes a bet with Lionel: He must choose a woman at random and spend a night with her without having sex. Lionel accepts the challenge and chooses Claire, a smiling, married travel agent.

At first Claire seems to be the calm and proper type, but behind her conventional appearance is an uncontrollable appetite for sex and lust. To win the bet Lionel makes Claire believe he is impotent; he tells her he likes women but can't have sex with them. But Claire develops a passion for Lionel and imposes herself on him as his savior; she gives him "exciting" sexual treatments to awake his sleepy libido. Claire eventually leaves her husband and moves in with Lionel. Everyday life, however, soon turns the affair into a boring relationship, provoking a turn of the screw.

Lionel is a Don Juan. His greatest passion in life is to conquer a woman. In this aspect the film deals with the Don Juan syndrome, showing that behind every lady-killer there is an impotent man. The film explores the snags of sexual behavior, exposing what is behind the mask of a femme fatale or a womanizer.

Bossa Nova
photo credit
Bossa Nova

Alain is the film's narrator and framer. He lays out these themes by giving different versions of what happened between the two lovers. This removed, Bertolt Brecht-type method provides the viewer the opportunity to participate in the drama and form his own opinion about the behavior and real nature of the film's characters. Such distance, however, is excessive, gratuitous, and sometimes distracting from the main plot.

French films traditionally have revolved around love and sex. Love Tangles owes a lot to François Truffaut, whose films about passion, women, and faithfulness have made him the most popular and successful French film director. His 1977 L' Homme Qui Aimait Les Femmes was a charming, sophisticated comedy about a man who falls in love with almost every woman he meets, and tells his story in flashbacks while writing his autobiography. While not as good, Péray's film also is about tricks of seduction and how to disguise the truth to dazzle any lover. But it also warns conquerors about the danger of falling into their own trap, turning the conqueror into a victim of love. -- Sergio Giral
Love Tangles screens Sunday, February 20, at 9:30 p.m.

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