THIS debut film, from the talented pen of Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, has at its heart a whirlwind performance from Anais Demoustier who is Anais in love.
At times, you almost feel giddy as this 30 year-old impulsive force of nature bombs upstairs like a fell runner and runs with her bike (no time for sitting on it).
Anais is like a pendulum – non-stop perpetual motion. You almost need to take a sea sickness tablet to deal with her bobbing up and down. Vitality courses through her veins.
Yet, her frenetic behaviour eventually turns to tenderness (thank goodness) as she falls for the physical and intellectual attractions of a mature Emilie (Valeria Bruno Tedeschi), a writer of some repute.
It is this courtship when the film is at its best, with perpetual motion replaced by sensuality. The scenes on the beach in Brittany where they consummate their love – and their courtship on the lawns of a chateau where they are attending a writing course – are beautifully shot by Noe Bach. Desire and sand bubble to the surface like an over excited geyser. It’s erotic and all rather moving. The coming together of human beings that have an obvious connection.
Demoustier’s Anais is hyper. Indeed, at times you do wonder whether she’s got time to breathe. Whether it’s talking to her landlady who is demanding overdue rent, lining up the next person to sleep with, or making excuses for failing to do her thesis on time (she’s a student), she doesn’t pause.
Not many breaths after jettisoning the kindly and rather dishy Raoul (Christophe Montenez), she is sleeping with Daniel (Denis Podalydes), someone many years her senior and who looks better dressed than undressed. And it’s not long before she is drawn to Emilie, Daniel’s rather beautiful partner.
It’s a longer courtship than Anais would maybe prefer, but her single-mindedness wins out. She will stop at nothing to get the woman she has been drawn to like a magnet. Whether the relationship lasts is for you to find out.
The backdrop to this courtship is her mother’s battle with cancer. It is in her moments with her kindly Mum (Anne Canovas) and dishevelled Dad (Bruno Todeschini) that Anais veers from her single-mindedness and reveals her heart. Maybe, her mother’s terminal illness explains Anais’s joie de vivre, her hedonism. Life needs to be lived and issues tackled head on.
Completing the family is Anais’ brother Balthazar (Xavier Guelfi) and somewhat bizarrely, a lemur who goes by the name of Gilbert. Balthazar and Anais are complete opposites.
Although the film takes a while to warm up, it has many attributes. The scenery (sea, the castle and Paris where Anais lives) is beautiful – and along the way it’s not frightened to tackle key issues such as abortion and coping with terminal illness. It’s also sprinkled with doses of humour, most provided by the hapless Daniel who is affronted by Anais’s decision to direct her ardour towards his long-standing partner and not him.
Yet it’s the smouldering relationship between the stars of the film – the manipulative but charming Anais and the rather flattered, charismatic Emilie – that provides all the champagne moments.
Anais In Love represents a smart debut film debut for Bourgeois-Tacquet. It’s full of life – and represents life as it is. Both complex and sometimes beguiling.
Anaïs in Love – In cinemas & digital from August 19