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Lovers (Amants)

French thriller about young femme fatale divided between a young criminal lover and an older wealthy husband is pretentious and unnecessary - live from Venice


Lisa (Stacy Martin) is a young woman to die for. She’s in a relationship with Simon (Pierre Niney), a young drug dealer in Paris. One day, one of his clients has on overdose while partying with the couple, forcing the young male into self-exile in an unnamed country somewhere in Oceania. Lisa stays behind and marries the ultra-wealthy Leo Redler (Benoit Magimel), whom she meets while working in the cloakroom of a nightclub.

The film is clumsily divided into three parts, each one named after each location: Paris, Oceania and Geneva. In the second part, Simon and Lisa meet again. Her allegiance is predictably divided between the carnal and fiery relationship with the young man and the comfortable one with the older one. The extremely attractive woman is cold and dispassionate towards her husband. He seems to understand that their relationship is mostly based on money and convenience, and therefore does not challenge her cold attitude – as long as she’s prepared to have sex with her spouse at his will. How gentlemanly!

In the final part, Simon and Leo finally come face-to-face and the truth begins to emerge. The inevitable duel takes place. Who will win the irresistible yet deceptive lady: the fire of youth or the convenience of wealth? Bullets will be fired and blood will be spilt before this question is answered.

The female director Nicole Garcia does vilify any of her characters. All protagonists are greedy, fallible and yet perfectly likeable human beings. They are capable of cheating and even killing, but that’s ok. This is a highly conventional thriller. You would never realise the female gaze behind the camera unless you knew it. The filmmaker does not add anything new to the genre, the characters are flat and cliched, and the script is mostly uninventive.

Every sequence in Lovers takes place in a luxurious setting, even the supposedly nondescript environments inhabited by Simon in Oceania and Geneve (at one point he describes his life as “failed”. The director does challenge this ostentatious and highly unrealistic wealth, instead she seems more interested in celebrating it. Perhaps she intended to create some sort of highly elegant 21st century international neonoir. It all went terribly awry. The outcome is that the story feels tawdry and vulgar, often detached from reality.

Lovers has just premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival, which we are covering live and exclusively for you!

By Victor Fraga - 04-09-2020

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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