A review of “Read My Lips” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: Not Rated, but could be R for adult situations and sexuality. In French with English subtitles

Run Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

 

 

Carla Bhem (Emmanuelle Devos) is a loyal, hardworking secretary at a successful property development company.  She’s plain, trustworthy, and prone to taking on mountains of grunt work to prove her worth.  Carla is also partially deaf.  Like any ambitious 35-year old, Carla would like to ascend the corporate ladder, but feels restricted by her hearing disability.

Enter Paul Angeli (Vincent Cassel), an unskilled office trainee who happens to be a rootless, freshly-sprung-from-lockup thief.  The straight-laced (and professionally victimized) Carla is instantly attracted to Paul’s bad-boy nature and sexy, unwashed charisma. Although Paul is trying to go straight, he reluctantly gives in when Carla turns to him for help with a sticky office situation. From that favor springs a fluid, thrilling mating dance of skills and flaws that may benefit both players.

This is a film of striking unease, chronicling a mutually dependent relationship that ever so slowly transforms itself into a cagey battle of wills.  Cesar winner (French Oscar to you and me) Devos and nominee Cassel give arresting performances as perpetual outsiders who connect on an emotionally fateful level as they absorb themselves in the ultimate struggle for power and position.