LOOK AT ME
Twenty year old Lolita (Marilou Berry) is angry at the world - especially her father, famous writer Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri) - who cannot see beyond her over-weight exterior. The only time she is happy is when she is singing and is encouraged by her singing teacher, Sylvia (Agnès Jaoui), who is married to novelist Pierre (Laurent Grevill). Pierre is highly insecure about his talents, and when Sylvia realizes who Lolita's famous father is, she uses the relationship. Etienne's beautiful young second wife Karine (Virginie Desarnauts) also has insecurities and is trying to win Lolita's approval. But Lolita lashes out at everyone, even her new friend, aspiring writer, Sébastien (Keine Bouhiza), who she suspects only likes her for her connections.
Review by Louise Keller:
Like Agnès Jaoui's first film The Taste of Others, Look at Me is a character-driven film that displays all the comic and dramatic elements of real life. Everyone is having a crisis in this modern day social comedy that uses fame and the power fame brings, on which to hang its frame. It's amusing, touching and revealing as we meet famous author Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri), his ugly duckling daughter Lolita (Marilou Berry), insecure novelist Pierre (Laurent Grevill) and Sylvia (Agnès Jaoui) who teaches singing to Lolita.
This second collaboration between French husband and wife team Jaoui and Bacri has more barb than the first, with plenty of sting in all the characters. The script, which won best screenplay at Cannes, is acutely observed and spits out truth after truth. There are no special effects - the explosions are of the emotional kind, as the trajectory of the characters intersect.
Lolita has an image problem: she is nothing like the skinny, glamorous models found in magazines and on television, or her father's trophy second wife. Short and overweight, she is locked in a prism of self-loathing. 'She's anger on wheels,' says her father, who has no notion of how to communicate with his daughter. Lolita clings to Sylvia, her singing teacher, hoping for reassurance in her musical talents. But Sylvia is tired of being an emotional crutch - first to her weak husband, and now to Lolita who is becoming a nuisance, making demands on her time. When she realises Lolita's father is famous, everything changes: nothing is too much trouble and soon she is hating herself for using the young girl.
Etienne excels at being sour and is himself frustrated because he's not been able to write anything coherent for months. When at last he finds the words, it is in the middle of his daughter's concert, and he thinks nothing of her feelings as he walks out.
The catalyst for change is Keine Bouhiza's Sébastien, who symbolically falls at Lolita's feet at the beginning of the film. Is it possible that Sébastien is only interested in her for the doors that her father can open? The characters develop slowly, and by the time the climactic scene arrives when Lolita rides into the night after Sébastien, we feel as though we know what makes all the character tick.
Look at Me is a wonderfully real film, full of nuances and subtleties that reflect our insecurities, relationships and loves.
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LOOK AT ME (PG)
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CAST: Marilou Berry, Agnes Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri, Laurent Greville, Virginie Desarnauts, Keine Bouhiza
PRODUCER: Jean-Philippe Andraca, Christian Berard
DIRECTOR: Agnes Jaoui
SCRIPT: Agnes Jaoui, Jean-Pierre Bacri
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephane Fontaine
EDITOR: Francois Gedigier
MUSIC: Philippe Rombi
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Olivier Jacquet
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 24, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Magna Pacific
VIDEO RELEASE: September 7, 2002