This is my review of Les émotifs anonymes (FR IMPORT).
Titled “Romantics Anonymous” in English, this short film introduces us to Jean-René, the chronically shy owner of a failing chocolate factory who pays regular visits to a shrink in an attempt to overcome his inability to relate to others. He hires Angélique, a hypersensitive young woman, as a totally unsuitable sales rep, not realising that she possesses a rare talent for making irresistible chocolates which can save his business. Unable to cope with personal recognition and being the centre of attention, she has managed to pass herself off as a mere go-between ferrying what have become widely celebrated chocolates made by an imaginary elusive “hermit” to a confectioner who is “in” on her secret but whose death has forced her to seek another job.
In this short, lightweight comedy, much of the humour revolves around Jean-René trying to fulfil basic tasks to develop his social skills: steeling himself to touch people, or to take Angelique out for a meal. We realise why he brings a suitcase to the restaurant and hides it in the gents: he needs to rush off every few minutes to change his shirt, as he is “burning up” over the stress of the meeting.
Similarly, we see Angélique taking her problems to a support group full of ironical situations, such as when the girl who “can’t say no” proudly tells the others that she has managed to resist a man’s advances, only for it to become sadly apparent that she has destroyed what sounds like a genuine relationship which she should have encouraged.
The incidents are too exaggerated for anyone to take offence over laughing at what is in fact a real problem for many people. Overall, the film is quite well-made, and it is all “wonderfully French” apart from the jarring, glaringly inappropriate English pop music inserted to cover some scenes.
Can Jean-René overcome his gaucheness sufficiently to stop driving Angélique away because she thinks she has “done something wrong”? Can two such emotional people find happiness together? The outcome is not really in doubt. If it all sounds too trivial, you can at least take the opportunity to practise your French comprehension.