Movies are essentially an art of manipulation. The composition of a frame, the angle of a shot, the pace, the score, even the credits are all specifically utilized to bend our perception of the story on screen. The difference between a close up and a long shot is the difference between one awareness and another. In many cases, it is the difference between two stories.
“He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” is a movie completely reliant upon audience trickery. It builds our trust in one character only to betray that trust by impulsively switching perspectives mid-way through the film. It creates a façade and then dismantles it, piece by piece, with head-slapping logic and more than a few psychological jolts. This is a movie you can watch for the first time twice—once you know the secret that even the misleading trailer takes good care to repress, it becomes a completely different movie.
The heroine is dainty young art student Angelique (Audrey Tatou) who is conducting an affair with Loic (Samuel Le Bihan), a married cardiologist with a baby on the way. She is madly in love with him and their relationship appears to be a mutually happy one until Loic begins to stand Angelique up in favor of his wife. Angelique consequently assumes a painful downward spiral into depression until a startling revelation is made that changes everything.
Even more shocking yet is that lying just beneath the outer layer of cerebral mayhem is a sort of ironic humor. We have Audrey Tautou, fresh from her career-defining performance in “Amelie”, whose face would likely appear alongside the definition of ‘adorable’ in the dictionary, playing a deranged jilted lover. The reasoning that discloses the true plot is all so simple, you can almost sense the writers giggling at their own devilishly easy deception. It isn’t often you get a psychological thriller this engrossing that simultaneously pokes subtle fun at its own guise as a sappy love story.
It’s this simplicity that makes “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” such a pleasing movie to watch. We don’t have to work out complex concepts or sticky knots of jumbled up relationships. Though there is just enough left untouched to give it a mysterious air, it only plays coy when necessary while dishing out information with precise timing. The complexity is in its knowledge of the audience’s mind and how to manipulate it with smokescreens and imagery. When you know how a person thinks, it infinitely possible to permeate their mind. This is all the more cunning when your tactics go unseen—good advice for cinematographers and unhinged lovers alike.