Despite plenty of steamy bedroom action, “The Invention of Love” fails to excite. Two of Quebec’s better thesps, David La Haye and Pascale Montpetit, turn in strong performances, but their best efforts don’t compensate for an uninspired story about a frustrated writer with a Casanova complex. After screening in competition at Montreal’s World Film Festival, writer-director Claude Demers’ first feature opened Sept. 22 in Quebec to lackluster box office and will likely face a similar fate in international waters.
Antoine (La Haye) is the quintessential tortured young writer. He is obsessively working on his second novel in a bid to get over his failed relationship with Matina (Irene Stamou), and it’s clear that their affair continues to make it difficult for Antoine to establish a normal rapport with a woman.
One day, while staring longingly at his former love, he’s run over — literally — by a car driven by Charlotte (Montpetit). With an apparently perfect home life with her loving husband and kid, an a pleasant job running a chic boutique, Charlotte couldn’t be more different from Antoine. But she’s immediately smitten with the sexy, troubled novelist and is soon sharing his bed — and sharing him with smart, beautiful young prostitute Elisabeth (Delphine Brodeur) in a hastily arranged menage-a-trois.
Early on, the story starts to meander and, for most of its running time, doesn’t maintain viewer interest. It doesn’t help matters that Antoine comes across as an ultra-self-centered mope who elicits almost no sympathy. La Haye has natural charisma and no small amount of sex appeal, and Montpetit once again delivers a wonderfully expressive performance. But both are constrained by their thinly drawn characters.
The secondary characters don’t fare any better. Elisabeth — a stunning, intelligent blond teen hooker — is little more than a wet-dream cliche. Charlotte’s husband, Joey (Andreas Apergis), is an equally hard-to-believe character who sits on the sidelines and watches with little interest as his wife dumps the family for her X-rated workouts with Antoine.
Pic looks great, though, making good use of downtown Montreal locations, and features an evocative ambient score.