Movie Review: “Romantics Anonymous” (Spoiler Alert)

Netflix summarizes this move as “This delightful romantic comedy follows the slow-burn romance of talented chocolatier Anelique and chocolate-factory owner Jean-Rene.” However, this description, while not dishonest, is misleading.

Romantics Anonymous, also called Les émotifs anonymes, came out in 2010 and stars Benoit Poevoorde and Isabelle Carré.  A French-Beligum project directed by Jean-Pierre Améris – the film delves into the topic of hyper emotionality with all it’s quirks and eccentricities. A comedy is perhaps the best vehicle to capture the faux caprice and clumsy whimsy of two people suffering the same affliction; who try to learn to let go and trust in what they truly feel as opposed to their heightened fear of living in general.

The movie would fail if it were not for the two amiable leads Jean-René (Benoît Poelvoorde) and Angélique (Isabelle Carré). Their collective neurosis captures the sensitivity of everyone’s personal plight with anxiety. Some of us suffer from more than others, but I truly believe there is at least one event in a person’s life that truly makes them uneasy. What makes the movie work is that these anxieties are heightened and they portrayed in a way that they while annoying they are not so threatening that it endangers our emotions turning dark.

Jean-René is the owner of a on-the-verge-bankruptcy chocolate factory, who has never overcome his fears and has remained single despite longing to be in a relationship. Angélique  is a superb chocolate maker, but who, for exactly the same reasons, has failed to make a name for herself and to find someone who will love her in return. Houston, we have lift off. Both characters transcend the minimalistic plot through their nuanced exaggerations. The comedy paces itself on how they bounce off one another, increasing the level of hyperemotionality that exists within each other yet the intensity is slow building but alluring in that you hang on each opportunity that pushes them and the dismay and comedy as they revert to their hysterical selfs.

Eventually, their issue circles them, as each release their burden in a group of fellow emotional people. The final scenes of the movie have them prepared for a wedding. However, knowing each so well, they take off down the pastoral roadside.

Their future is unwritten. Their next choices not made. Are they embracing themselves? Are they embracing freedom? The ending has a very existential feel. Authenticity – embracing their true selves, their true nature.

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