Greetings again from the darkness. We have all had that friend who falls head over heels for someone we know is not good for them. If we are a dutiful friend, we make every effort possible to open their eyes before it’s too late. Sometimes they are simply too far gone to listen … and what follows is a roller-coaster of emotions, or even an outright train wreck. Writer/director (and sometimes actress) Maiwenn, who was once married to director Luc Besson, finds much to examine in the roller-coaster relationship of Georgio and Marie/Tony.
The story is viewed through the eyes (and recollections) of Marie/Tony played with exuberance by Emmanuelle Bercot. After a skiing “accident”, Tony goes to a rehabilitation center to receive post-surgery treatment. While her knee is healing, she also spends her time self-analyzing a tumultuous and destructive relationship with her ex Georgio (Vincent Cassel). It’s easy to see the parallels for her learning to walk again, while also learning to live again.
Tony is a successful criminal attorney and self-described “normal” woman. She falls hard for the exciting Georgio, a life-of-the-party type. Tony’s brother Solal (Louis Garrel) and Georgio’s suicidal ex Agnes (Chrystele Saint Louis Augustin) are both against this relationship, but it’s challenging to stop the love bug when it hits this hard. The film acts as a blueprint of how relationships and falling in love can start strong, build to a crescendo, and then crash and burn.
Georgio has many childlike characteristics. He is fine when he gets his way, but explosive and manipulative at the drop of a hat. He is fully engaged in phase one which is filled with passion, lust, fun and excitement; however, once the everyday toil and maintenance of the relationship is required, his bi-polar personality becomes difficult to watch.
Addiction plays a key role here. Georgio is addicted to freedom, partying, and drugs; Tony is addicted to the excitement and passion that he delivers to her “normal” life. There are some cinematically rare “real life” scenes scattered throughout, and none better than the couple’s first time in bed, and a later dinner scene where Georgio’s charm and manipulation skills are on full display as he puts Tony in a no-win situation.
Vincent Cassel has joined Mads Mikkelsen on my short list of actors that I will watch regardless of the project. His screen presence is powerful and emotionally-driven, and here he generates both admiration and disgust at varying times. We understand why Tony is in a “can’t live with him, can’t live without him” mode. Emmanuelle Bercot (also a writer and director for other films) manages to cover the full spectrum of emotions during the film, and she takes us along for the self-reflection. We pull for her even as we question her sanity at times. Somehow we get it … he’s the king of jerks, but he’s her king. If only she had listened…