An insidious duet of co-dependency, the seeds of which were planted in childhood, shakes up the settled lives of two lovely but emotionally needy women in “Replay.” Well-thesped but strangely inert endeavor is always watchable thanks to fetching female leads Emmanuelle Beart and Pascale Bussieres, but adds little of fresh interest to the considerable collection of pics about obsessional friendships, dangerous crushes and vicarious ambition. Pic will register some sales on the strength of its attractive femmes but the sexual undercurrent of their ambiguous relationship is dissipated in too much random, capricious behavior to resonate as involving human drama rather than the faintly irritating antics of two spoiled babes.
Helmer Catherine Corsini follows her 1998 man-eating comedy “The New Eve” with this would-be psychological thriller set in the realm of intense feelings.
At age 20, lifelong best friends Nathalie (Beart) and Louise (Bussieres) both have their sights set on the theater. While fun-loving Nathalie is interested in boys, brooding pixiesh Louise has eyes only for the bosom buddy with whom she shared everything growing up. Sent into a jealous rage at the idea of Nathalie dancing with some guy after an amateur theatrical event in their provincial town, Louise returns to her parents’ home and slits her wrist. Oblivious to the ferocity of her friend’s feelings, Nathalie is baffled and crushed when Louise’s mom tells her Louise never wants to see her again.
Ten years later, Louise and her husband Nicolas (Sami Bouajila) attend a play in Avignon where the two of them live and work as dental prostheticians. Starring none other than Nathalie, the play was written and directed by Matthias (Dani Levy) the professionally demanding young man she loves and lives with in Paris.
Louise goes backstage, where a surprised Nathalie greets her warmly. In the brief time she spends waiting in Nathalie’s dressing room, Louise’s old buried passion is reawakened and she flees without catching up with her old friend. But, having ascertained that the play will next be performed in Copenhagen, Louise flies off to Denmark. There she conspires to give Nathalie’s career a boost by tricking her into meeting with the famous stage director Walter Amar (Jean-Pierre Kalfon), who may want to cast her as the lead in a Paris production of “Lulu.” Matthias experiences this tentative move away from his own work as a wounding betrayal and rejects Nathalie, making it easy for Louise to play the caring supportive friend.
When Nathalie lands the part, Louise drops job and hubby to be by her side during rehearsals. Insecure Nathalie at first relishes Louise’s support, but senses the relationship is fundamentally unhealthy for both parties. The tug of shifting emotions culminates in a steamy session between the sheets. But if the shape the relationship should take is clear to Louise, Nathalie has a fuzzier vision.
Agnes Godard’s location lensing is efficient and the two plays within the film spot eye-catching sets.