Love Affair(s) stars Camélia Jordana as Daphné, Niels Schneider as Maxime, Vincent Macaigne as François, Émilie Dequenne as Louise, Jean-Baptiste Anoumon as Stéphane, Guillaume Gouix as Gaspard, Julia Piaton as Victoire, Jenna Thiam as Sandra, Louis-Do de Lencquesaing as Le réalisateur, and Fanny Gatibelza as La femme de Stéphane.
Direct from the Cannes Film Festival, Love Affair(s)embodies many classic tropes of French cinema. It takes you through a see-saw of interlocking tales of relationships and affairs which will have you identifying with some, or perhaps swearing you off love forever.
At the centre of it all are two people thrown together by chance, Daphné, a 3 months pregnant woman whose boyfriend has left her alone in the French countryside with his cousin Maxime, a wannabe novelist who has come to visit, and is nursing a broken heart. Taking Maxime on tours of the countryside to keep him entertained until his cousin returns, they get to know each other and share stories of love gained and love lost.
Hold on tight and keep up, for stemming from two people are tentacles of many characters and their tales that are at times confusing, thoughtful, perplexing, profound and more. It's filled with emotional detours, unexpected connections and the complexities and messiness of love and desire. This is a network of love triangles and affairs with every standalone story planting the seeds for several more. Unrequited desire, sacrifice for love, lies, revisiting the past, it has it all. However, at the core of it, it's a soft-spoken unapologetically French arthouse piece that takes you on an engaging narrative that's warm and gentle.
It brings to light discussions on every aspect of love for you to consider. The men in the film appear clueless, bumbling or uncomfortable while the women seem to have a handle on it. Yet sometimes, they still seem to engage in relationships that started out as just being convenient or circumstantial, and not one of true love or even sexual attraction. Director Emmanuel Mouret has created an emotional tapestry where frivolous and more emotional stories sit alongside each other. A large cast of characters in a diverse set of situations gives a lot of leeway to play with complexity. The film also plays with perspective, framing and then reframing certain events with different contexts.
It's non-judgemental, and an ode to inconstancy. If the whole network of characters and their stories had to be explained, you'd need a 'relationship tree' to follow the who's with who affair. It's best that you go for a pleasurable jaunt into the lives of others and consider whether or not any of the scenarios and explorations of modern love resonates with you. The film's French title: Things We Say, Things We Do (Les Choses qu'on dit, les choses qu'on fait) is infinitely more evocative than the banal Love Affair(s). Be sure to check out many other wonderful films at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021.