Written by: Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet
Starring: Anaïs Demoustier, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Denis Podalydès
There comes a time in life to get serious like settling down, bearing some responsibility for the things around you, and paying taxes. It happens at different times for everyone and perhaps because that came at an early age for me, when it continues at a later stage like what takes place in Anaïs in Love I tend to relish in it. This flightiness and lack of commitment of this feature weaves past everything and becomes something incredibly funny and moving as well.
Gallivanting through Paris with no money and with no partner, Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) finds herself in a non-commital relationship with an older man, Daniel (Denis Podalydès). It scratches the itch she has for companionship, which changes when she learns about his wife Emile (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) who captivates Anaïs in a way she can barely comprehend.
As odd as it may be, there’s something about a European woman running through the streets of their city that has a hold over me. Just like last year with The Worst Person in the World, following a late-20s/early-30s woman in just trying to seek what brings her happiness elicits a sort of unrivaled joy that makes for a fantastic viewing experience. The film starts out with Anaïs running through the streets of Paris going from place to place trying to have some sort of grasp of everything happening around her. Her life demonstrates a series of loose ends and unfinished business that she just never wants to get around to. Whether it be her thesis or even finding a way to adequately pay for her rent, she cannot finish anything nor does she fight for it. A lack of commitment that would make her annoying to know in real life, but makes for such a fun character to follow through a feature film.
The quirks of Anaïs become her most lovable traits along with the intricacies that make her who she is. If you cannot vibe with her then I can see how this feature would not be as enjoyable for you, but undoubtedly, this film accentuates and fluctuates to her whims. She dictates everything about this story and if she changes her mind on how she wants to operate her life, she will make the change everything on a dime with absolutely no care for how it impacts others. Nothing highlights this more than when she decides to, on a whim, go to a writer’s symposium while skipping out on the one she’s tasked to put together as part of helping the professor assisting with her thesis. Absolutely infuriating if you have to encounter her in life, but makes for such a funny character to fall in love with.
With the light nature of this film, there’s still a slight sense of tension that remains throughout the feature and that comes from the flightiness of Anaïs and how you have to imagine everything will catch up with her eventually. How long can she go without paying her rent and avoiding any semblance of responsibility in her life? Who will she leave hanging that will refuse to help her out again? Anaïs remains completely unphased about it all because she remains steadfast in living the life she wants and seeking her desires that become admirable. If anything, so much of the comedy of this film comes from others reacting to her insane selfishness.
Anaïs feels almost bored by anything that slows her down in life and continually has this yearning for finding something that captivates her. It’s quite beautiful that this occurs in the film, not through looks but the written word that turns her light affections for Daniel, and it all switches over to his wife, an author. She immediately drops everything and becomes obsessed with trying to know her to a beautiful degree. Anaïs drops everything with the affection edging on the precipice of being romantic, which turns the film into trying to figure out what Anaïs will do next and how the other characters will react to it.
As has been stated on several occasions throughout the film, the heartbeat of the narrative is Anaïs and the actor portraying her does a spectacular job of capturing the very essence of this character. Channeling the flighty nature of Anaïs while also nailing the delivery of her dismissive comments makes every comedic moment land splendidly well. The moments where she’s afraid to enter an elevator because of her claustrophobia highlight this so well and then when she explains the directions of operating her apartment to short-term renters. Anaïs Demoustier absolutely chews up this role and makes this character incredibly lovable even in her most selfish moments.
Crafting this tale from a similar past experience, director Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet taps into something that millennials struggle with and puts together a fantasy many wish they could live out. Whims that can be followed and just figuring everything else out later. Almost like a magical ride through something that feels like a fantasy but Anaïs lives through it all. She became a character I fell in love with and I wanted to continue to see where she would go and the people she would scorn. Her development is beautiful and this light affair quickly became a wondrous experience that I never wanted to end. A wonderful two-hander that demonstrates the power of cinema and how the exploration of others and their lives is something that connects with many. A spellbinding ride as I could watch Anaïs run through the streets of Paris to get to her next set of shenanigans for hours.