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Movie Review: Read My Lips

Story: The French are a challenging people - but they sure do make nice clothing, fine paintings, good food, a nice breed of dog and some terrific films (at least the ones that we see here in the States). I loved this film and it has stuck with me for over a day now (which is a good sign of a fine film).

Director and co-writer Jacques Audiard treats us to an absorbing, unpredictable, very skillfully made noir, thriller, love-story. The two main characters meet, evolve and become fully developed within the course of this two hour film. She is a hearing impaired, mousy, office worker who hires an ex-con to be her assistant. How their relationship develops is the main part of the story. It is fascinating to see the layers unfold as we watch the control in the relationship go back and forth from one to the other. Most of the characters in the film lack any redeeming qualities and yet I really cared about what was happening to them. This is not an easy thing for a director to accomplish.

This film is about revenge, attraction, love, need, greed and the lesser side of human nature. It is a film with a clear dark side. I like that.

Acting: Emmanuelle Devos won the Cesar (the French Oscar) as Best Actress last year for this role. It is easy to see why. She is totally believable and convincing as the deaf woman. Vincent Cassal (Brotherhood of the Wolf) was also fabulous as the sleaze-ball ex-con. I am sure this film will be remade soon by some American company and totally be ruined. C'est la vie!

Critters: In this morally corrupt film there were thankfully, no critters.

Food: Some unappealing cafeteria food, lots of booze and of course, cigarettes - lots and lots of cigarettes. Those French sure do defy the warnings on the packages of smokes. Perhaps in France there are no warnings.

Visual Art: None that I can recall.

Blatant Product Placement: French stuff.

Soundtrack: A terrific use of sound throughout. The scenes where her hearing aids are used to block out or amplify sound were particularly great.

Opening Titles: Stark black and white.

Theater Audience: Appropriately, this film is playing at The Paris theater. It was a sparse midday crowd and as we were leaving we heard a guy on the telephone saying to a most likely disinterested party that he had just seen the worst film he had ever seen - and that the film was totally incomprehensible. We laughed. Vive la difference!

Quirky Meter: 4

Squirm Scale: I did not squirm - but my buddy squirmed at the parts where there is some head butting.

Predictability Level: Unpredictably terrific.

Oscar Worthy: Apparently Cesar worthy.

Nit Picking: There is a small, unnecessary side story about the ex-con's parole officer. If this had been edited out it would have gotten a 9 Lobo Howls.

Big Screen or Rental: Big Screen

Length: 2 hours.