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Mr. Stein Goes Online (Un profil pour deux) - Film Review

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by Felicity (subscribe)
A Melbournian who wonders as I wander. I have spent a lot of life colouring in moments and take great pleasure in creative expression of experience. Interested in Design, Art, Film, Photography, Painting and all things French.
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When you watch the reality TV show Catfish, there is a sense of unreality in the situations. Despite the handheld camera and documentary-style, something stands in the way of forming deep sympathy.

There is always a gap of blank disconnect that can't get you past the question 'But how could anyone be that stupid? Why are they online expecting the person on the other end to be genuine? Why are they telling a stranger their deepest secrets? And why, if the person turns to look entirely different, did they expect it to be any other way?'

The French have a talent for capturing 'unproduced' reality. The film 'Mr Stein Goes Online' takes a Catfish situation as its content and brings the complexities to light much more poignantly and naturally than the filmed documentary reality.

The French title Un profil pour deux offers a more accurate insight into the crux of the filmic crisis. You leave the cinema with a greater comprehension of human nature than you ever get watching naive teens assuaging loneliness. Lost in the tempting quagmire of internet dating.

Classed as a comedy, this is not the type of film in which you share irrepressible laughter with the rest of the audience. There is a depressive undertone and events smoulder in their own time.

This allows you to get to know the characters as you might in life. They don't immediately define themselves in your mind according to set stereotypes. All they hold back forms an understated impression that cuts deep.

The central character is not 75 year old Mr Pierre Stein (Pierre Richard) but his granddaughter's boyfriend Alex (Yaniss Lespert). Alex is a sensitive, moody young man. He is caught in a rift between Pierre and his Granddaughter Juliette (Stephanie Crayencour). Pierre prefer's her former partner who has moved to China and makes no secret of the fact.

Alex is put upon by the whole family who he has moved in with. Jobless and dependant, he serves with minimal complaint. He is a dreamer who captures Juliette's fleeting imagination. From the moment her boyfriend jets off, her thoughts fly with him to China.

Pierre's daughter Sylvie is concerned for her father. She sets Alex up as Pierre's internet teacher. Pierre and Alex rockily form an alliance. This is centrally due to Pierre's manipulative need of the young man's youth. At first sceptical, the advantages of the internet rapidly overwhelm Pierre's initial preconceptions. Suddenly he has a distraction from longing for his lost wife. This is where the complications begin and end.

Pierre draws from your heartless sympathy than the put-upon Alex. This is due to the disrespect with which he uses him and others. Flora (Fanny Valette) is both Pierre and Alex's saving grace. The missing piece in both their lives. They uncomfortably share responsibility for capturing her interest. Pierre through words and Alex through being.

Much of the film is tinged with a sense of distaste. Pierre is almost lecherous in the way he comes to vicariously live through Alex.

By the film's conclusion, you are left with a great sense of tragedy and beauty. The closing moments leave a sweet smile on your face. Such as can only be found at the conclusion of a French film.
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