To triumph in the romantic comedy genre, it’s all about addressing a rather tricky balance, and ensuring that both the rom and the com are explored without either compromising the other. It’s something the French just seem to excel in, tonally getting it spot on, able to be charming and sentimental, without veering into mawkish territory. Anne-Gaelle Daval’s De Plus Belle is emblematic of this notion, as a sweet, uncynical endeavour that celebrates the person within – albeit a message the filmmaker does seem intent in shoving down our throats.
Florence Foresti plays Lucie, a single mother currently going through remission following a difficult time with breast cancer. Struggling to find confidence within herself again, she’s given a new lease of life when she meets the perennial charmer Clovis (Mathieu Kassovitz) who becomes beguiled by this quirky individual. But there’s only so much he can do to help Lucie rebuild her life, and so this is where dance teacher Dalila (Nicole Garcia) comes in, as between them they ensure this brave woman is ready to fall in love again, but to do so, she’s going to have to learn how to love herself first.
De Plus Belle deconstructs the genre, and that too is part of its charm – all the while ensuring it remains comfortably predictable, following a familiar formula in an affectionate way. Though while it mostly avoids feeling too saccharine in its approach, the soundtrack fights against that – with a selection of tracks that are cheesy and cliched, with the mawkish rendition of “You Are So Beautiful” a perfect example of this misjudged aspect of the film.
De Plus Belle is released on November 3rd.