"Perfect Match" springs few surprises but moseys pleasantly along with some fine chemistry between leads Carole Bouquet and singer Marc Lavoine.
A straight-arrow opposites-attract romantic comedy, “Perfect Match” springs few surprises but moseys pleasantly along with some fine chemistry between leads Carole Bouquet and singer Marc Lavoine. Mid-December release attracted a sexy 2.7 million admissions in its first month and would fit comfortably into French film weeks and Euro cablers’ skeds.
The immaculate Bouquet is in her element as Helene, a writer with a young son, Jeremy (Jean Senejoux), and such a tightly wrapped singleton lifestyle that she even jogs up the stairs to her fifth-floor apartment in a tony district of Paris. Then, into the apartment opposite moves her polar opposite, Valentin (Lavoine), a likable loner-slob who’s down on his luck (no job, no g.f.) and takes over his uncle’s apartment for three months.
Helene is a serious scribe studying social inequality and prejudices, but she soon finds she has several prejudices of her own, especially when Valentin starts playing loud music next door. However, the buffer between them is Jeremy, who quickly pals up with Valentin and finds in him the father figure he so desperately needs.
Script runs the expected course of initial hostility followed by gradual rapprochement via Jeremy (and a cat that commutes between the two apartments). Pic’s conclusion is refreshingly unexpected, with a mature take on its equally mature characters.
As a slow-burning love story between a man who doesn’t want company and a woman who’s afraid of opening up, the film largely gets by on the playing of its three leads, with Bouquet holding back from sending up Helen too much, Lavoine relying on his crumpled charm and the young Senejoux avoiding typecasting as a cute tyke. Dialogue is well-honed without being over-acerbic, and some of the best lines are given to Florence Foresti as Helene’s sex-starved sister.
Though it’s still essentially a modest movie, “Perfect Match” is a big improvement by Belgian-born writer-director Anne-Marie Etienne on her last outing, 2000’s “Sooner or Later.” Helming is smooth, and technical package fine, with Christophe Julien’s almost Nino Rota-like score adding charm in the right places. French locations double convincingly for Scotland in the final reels.