Starring: Emmanuelle Chaulet, Sophie Renoir, Eric Viellard
Director: Éric Rohmer
Running Time: 103 mins
Boyfriends And Girlfriends (L’ami de mon amie) is a French film about a shy woman who befriends another more lively woman. As she is introduced to her new friend’s current boyfriend and other acquaintances, she becomes attached to one man in particular, whilst another becomes attached to her.
What we have here is a film that features a very interesting story about relationships and a younger generation, but it’s one that presents that story as if it were happening right in front of your eyes. Stripped bare of almost any fancy cinematic tricks, this is an amazingly down-to-earth movie that’s both entertaining and ultimately fascinating to watch. It takes a long while to get there, but this is actually very much worth the watch.
Let’s start with Éric Rohmer’s direction. Going into this film knowing very little, it took me a little while to realise what was actually happening. After about five or ten minutes, it becomes apparent that Rohmer isn’t interested in ramping up the stakes with faster pacing, more dynamic editing or even a musical score, because this is all about keeping the story as realistic as possible.
Now, I’m not going to deny that after I realised that all I’d be getting in this film was a series of conversations, I felt a little bored. The film moves at an insanely slow pace, moving gradually between the off conversation between various characters as they discuss their love lives.
However, if you stick with this film, it somehow comes back to make for a properly engaging story. Its more relaxed vibes mean it’s not the most emotionally thrilling watch, but the way that the film is directed is very refreshing, and the fact that it creates such a down-to-earth atmosphere means it’s so much easier to put yourself in the shoes of the main characters.
Yes, the first half of this movie is principally two women talking about their various relationships in a series of seemingly mundane conversations, but the story comes up with some fantastic surprises along the way that ultimately make it so much more interesting. And what’s more is that it sticks to its down-to-earth atmosphere by assuring you that all of its twists and turns happen on a more subtle, emotional level, rather than anything too melodramatic, which was fantastic to see.
Finally, the performances here are pretty good too. Sometimes it feels a little odd to judge this one given that the actors are playing out normal, everyday conversations, but they make sure that their performances are as realistic and convincing as possible. And also, there are some moments that require more than just talking, and the actors all prove themselves there and then, as well as the leading quartet having a strong chemistry that makes their story all the more believable.
Overall, I was impressed by Boyfriends And Girlfriends. Whilst it takes a very long time to get going, and its direction is very relaxed, it makes for a surprisingly entertaining and engaging story. It’s not a heavy-going drama, rather one that features emotional intrigue as well as a light-hearted vibe, and that’s why I’m giving this a 7.5.