×

Beautiful Lies

When a mom and her daughter fall for the same guy, the result is plenty of ooh-la-las but few actual laughs in "Beautiful Lies."

With:
With: Audrey Tautou, Nathalie Baye, Sami Bouajila, Stephanie Lagarde, Judith Chemla, Cecile Boland, Didier Brice, Daniel Duval.

When a mom and her daughter fall for the same guy, the result is plenty of ooh-la-las but few actual laughs in Gallic helmer Pierre Salvadori’s tried-and-tested romantic comedy, “Beautiful Lies.” Despite a cast toplined by Audrey Tautou (who, as if to incite further mispronunciation of her name, sports a large tattoo on her neck), this long-winded assembly of quid pro quos and borderline sexist banter goes only to the most predictable places. Salvadori (“Priceless”) has fared much, much better with such farcical material in the past, and the pic may perform below expectations before rebounding on the French tube.

Provincial hairdresser Emilie (Tautou), not to be mistaken for Amelie, runs her beauty parlor with an iron fist, especially when it comes to dealing with hunky Arab handyman Jean (Sami Bouajila). When she finds out Jean is an overeducated translator who speaks at least five languages, this infuriates her to the point that she fires him. (Why she does this is never entirely clear, though she seems to have a major inferiority complex when it comes to intelligent men.)

Popular on Variety

Little does Emilie know (or perhaps she doesn’t want to know) that Jean is madly in love with her. When he sends her an anonymous letter at the start of the film, she tosses it in the garbage, then decides to fish it out, copy it over and mail it to her depressed, recently dumped mom, Maddy (Nathalie Baye), a woman so starved for a man that she wanders the streets in a bathrobe looking for the letter’s author.

Maddy eventually stumbles upon Jean, and the ensuing confusion, which lasts at least a full hour, leads to lots of deadweight jokes involving Mom’s relentless sex drive. Soon enough, Emilie’s own feelings for Jean awaken, and the two ladies, easily 30 years apart, are thrown into a veritable mommy-daughter showdown in which Emilie’s “true lies” (as the original title explains) come back to haunt her.

Surely such a tale could take place only in France, and the morality of sleeping with your mom’s boyfriend hardly comes into play here. Instead, Salvadori and regular co-scribe Benoit Graffin focus on the war between Emilie’s suppressed libido and Maddy’s oversized one, with the rather endearing Jean caught in between. In the end, he winds up being the pic’s one redeemable character, which says a great deal about the filmmakers’ view of their supposedly sweet-natured female protags.

Doing what they must with the script’s vaudeville-style scenarios, Tautou and Baye can only go so far playing two women on estrogen overdrive. Bouajila (“Outside the Law”) is more subdued, and Jean seems to watch the proceedings with a mix of horror and resignation. Supporting roles are often caricatures of small-town simplemindedness.

Standard tech package is highlighted by Emilie’s garish and overlit hair salon.

Beautiful Lies

France

Production: A Pathe Distribution release of a Les Films Pelleas, TF1 Films Prod., Tovo Films production, in association with Sofica Coficup, Un Fonds Backup Films, Cinemage, with participation of Canal Plus, CinemaCinema. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Philippe Martin. Directed by Pierre Salvadori. Screenplay, Salvadori, Benoit Graffin.

Crew: Camera (color), Gilles Henry; editor, Isabelle Devinck; music, Philippe Eidel; production designer, Yves Fournier; costume designer, Virginie Montel; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Michel Casang, Christophe Winding, Josefina Rodriguez, Joel Rangon; line producer, Marc Fontanel; assistant director, Alan Corno; casting, Alain Charbit. Reviewed at Pathe screening room, Paris, Dec. 1, 2010. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Audrey Tautou, Nathalie Baye, Sami Bouajila, Stephanie Lagarde, Judith Chemla, Cecile Boland, Didier Brice, Daniel Duval.

More Film

  • Imogen Poots

    'Black Christmas' Star Imogen Poots on Why Male Horror Fans Should See Slasher Remake

    “Black Christmas” is the second remake of the 1974 slasher classic, which centers on a group of sorority sisters stalked by an unknown murderer. While the original had the female protagonists (SPOILER) offed, in this one, the women fight back. “It’s been called a re-imagining of the original, and I think, in ways that the [...]

  • Imogen Poots as Riley in "Black

    'Black Christmas': Film Review

    “Black Christmas,” a low-budget Canadian horror movie released in 1974, was a slasher thriller with a difference: It was the very first one! Okay, there were more than a few precedents, from “Psycho” (the great-granddaddy of the genre) to “The Last House on the Left” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” to Mario Bava’s “A [...]

  • David Benioff, D.B. Weiss. Creators and

    'Game of Thrones' Creators to Develop H.P. Lovecraft Movie at Warner Bros.

    Following their exit from the “Star Wars” universe, “Game of Thrones” co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have found their replacement pic, signing on to produce an untitled thriller based on the graphic novel “Lovecraft” for Warner Bros. It is unknown if they will also direct the project, but they’ve already set Phil Hay and [...]

  • Little Women Greta Gerwig BTS

    Greta Gerwig and 'Little Women' Crew Mix Modern and Classical

    Greta Gerwig wrote and directed Sony’s “Little Women,” a new look at Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved 19th-century classic. Eager to pay tribute to her artisan colleagues, Gerwig says, “It was a joy for me to work with all these people. It’s a movie that’s impossible to create without world-class artists. They killed themselves for me!” [...]

  • Honey Boy

    Shia LaBeouf's 'Honey Boy' Adds Unusual Twist to Oscar's History With Kids

    Hollywood has made many terrific films about childhood, and many about filmmaking. Amazon’s “Honey Boy,” which opened Nov. 8, combines the two: A movie with a child’s POV of the industry. That unique angle could be a real benefit during awards season, and the film’s backstory — with Shia LaBeouf as the main attraction — will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content