Jeux d’enfants (Love Me If You Dare) (2003)

Whimsy in film can be a balancing act few directors want to tackle. Too much and the film sinks under the weight of its own cuteness. But just the right amount, blended with slightly dark elements and a pervasive study of the characters, can result in a film that does not trod or meander aimlessly from one poorly constructed plot point to another, in the usual workmanlike fashion one associates with tired romantic films that Hollywood churns out every other week.

Jeux d’enfants (Love Me If You Dare) tells the tale of Julien Janiver (Guillame Canet) and Sophie Kowalski (Marion Cotillard), two children who are seemingly inseparable. Their friendship hinges on the dares and challenges they create for each other: whoever holds the candy-colored tin must dare the other to accept a challenge. The stakes continue to raise and ultimately continue into adulthood. Now in their mid 20s, the duo still play their games. But as the game they’ve played has kept going, they must now decide how far they’re willing to go, in life, in love, and everything and anything in between.

Yann Samuel has crafted a motion picture that will draw comparisons to everything from Amelie to a child’s storybook. While there are some similarities to be found, Jeux d’enfants deviates from what’s come before by presenting us with two utterly alive characters the likes of which we’ve not seen in cinema. Julien and Sophie are bewitching figures, ones who cast off the normalcy and conformity that others have laid at their feet, in order to carve their own niche. The nice thing is that the film doesn’t make their choices seem like it’s the right thing to do; the film merely states what the characters feel, what they desire, what they hope, and asks us to judge whether or not the two are free spirits in search of their ultimate source of happiness or merely two individuals with a whole host of issues that need working out.

Performance-wise, Canet and Cotillard instill their characters with every fiber of their being, embuing the indelible personas of Julian and Sophie with a sense of wonder, danger, mischief, heartache, and longing. The dialogue between the two is sharp, well-defined, but also surprisingly real, reflecting the uncertainty of the two throughout. Director Yann Samuell splashes an entire palette of color across the screen while also throwing in amazing visual effects and charming musical cues to bring the world of Julien and Sophie to life.

French cinema always seems to live, breathe and be more than what we’re capable of. It exists, it is its own entity, thriving and humming along to the strains of its own merry orchestra. Time and again, the cinematic eye of France provides us a through-the-looking-glass chance to see the heart, body soul, and mind of characters crafted in the very essence of being. It reminds us that films can transport us to anywhere we would like to go. And sometimes, as with a film like Jeux d’enfants, we’re shown that the only place we need to be is comfortable in our own skin.

So…

Yes, I’m working at Target once again, and have been since November 13th.

My mother spent some time in the hospital last month for pneumonia-related issues.

I’m sorry blogging’s been nonexistent. Between making the transition from being royally fucked over by MovieStop to getting back into the swing of things at Target, I’ve not had the time to devote to the blog (read: any) that I’d like.

My 26th birthday is this Sunday. I’ll be working 10-5 Saturday (covering for a new hire) and then 11-7 on Sunday. Sometime in the near future, I will celebrate it – my usual way of course which means eating dinner at a restaurant (I’m thinking Red Lobster) and then seeing a movie. There are a multitude of terrific movies playing right now (No Country For Old Men, The Mist, Enchanted, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, Juno better start playing here in a week or so; plus it looks like Gone Baby Gone is going to start playing again here…I’ve no idea why per se, as Oscar noms are a way off) and I’m eager to see them.

Of course this Sunday SCI FI’s new six hour miniseries Tin Man will debut. I’ll be watching for one reason and one reason only and that reason, of course, is the bewitching beauty that is Zooey Deschanel. Let’s see if I can keep a promise and hold true. I will review Tin Man. I will set aside some time, get my affairs in order, and make this happen.

I sincerely want to get back in the habit of reviewing. I love to do it, it’s just such a time-consuming effort that I’ve been finding myself unable to do it. Add into that the fact that I’ve not been watching that many movies lately (shock! horror! amazement! surprise!) but mainly TV series on my TiVo and you can see why my cinema critiques have fallen by the wayside.

I’m off from work today. I will watch Love Me If You Dare today and then review it. If I’m feeling extra froggy, I’ll also post a review of The Lives Of Others and maybe, just maybe, another film yet to be named. As you can plainly see, I have David Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE winging its way to me. From my understanding, INLAND EMPIRE makes Mulholland Drive (which I love and purchased sight unseen when it came out on DVD five years ago) look like Sesame Street. I can’t wait to immerse myself in almost three hours worth of Lynchian atmosphere. A review of INLAND EMPIRE will be posted. Meanwhile, here’s the trailer…