Read My Lips

(Sur mes Livres)

Read My Lips is a sometimes engrossing story about two unlikely people who come together out of a sense of desperation. What is interesting about Jacques Audiard's (Norme Francaise, A Self-Made Hero) new film is that the two main protagonists are not likable people. One is an ex-criminal and the other is a scheming secretary. As the film progresses, both worsen morally so it becomes even harder to like them. It all begins with Carla (Emmanuelle Devos, Ouch, Esther Kahn), a secretary toiling away at her job. She gets no respect from her superiors, and co-workers thwart her attempts to move ahead in the company. Carla is not ugly, but she is not attractive. At best, she is plain (and a little frumpy), which means that men ignore her. She has few friends, and worst of all, she is nearly deaf. She hides her large hearing aids behind her hair.

When her boss allows her to get an assistant to help with workload, she sees is as a chance to find a boyfriend. She hires Paul (Vincent Cassel, The Brotherhood of the Wolf, Birthday Girl), fresh out of prison. He has no skills whatsoever, but Carla thinks that she can be his friend. Carla actually uses him to enact revenge on a coworker who cheated her out of a commission. The problem is that Paul owes a large sum of money to Marchand (Olivier Gourmet, Princess, The Milk of Human Kindness), who wants to collect. He learns that Carla can read lips, and decides to enlist her help to help him somehow scam Marchand.

Paul needs Carla's help, but she mistakes this for love. At the same time, Paul thinks that Carla has a crush on him, but when he makes a move she vehemently denies anything. It is a strange relationship, and Audiard and co-writer Tonino Benacquista (Love Bites, Le Coeur a l'Ouvrage) explore it in many aspects. The two are highly mistrustful people, yet they need to rely on each other, sometimes literally for their lives. For most of their interaction, they need to gingerly test the limits of what is and isn't acceptable while trying to see how far each can go in the relationship. Audiard does a good job of keeping the audience guessing as to what exactly either person will do, and Devos' striking performance assists too.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 55 minutes, French with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some sexual situations, violence, and language, easily an R.

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