The Marseille set story introduces us to Diane (Virginie Efira), an emotionally sapped lawyer, recently separated from her husband (Cedric Kahn), with whom she owns a legal practice. After leaving her mobile in a restaurant, Diane is contacted by the charismatic Alexandre (Jean Dujardin) who has found her phone and sweet-talks her into meeting him so he can return the device in person. Alexandre slyly suggests, via reciprocal flirting, that their rendezvous could take the form of a date, with which Diane agrees, but upon meeting Alexandre she discovers him to be only four foot seven. Recognising the goodness within him, Diane decides to see past his physical appearance. The pair click and start a relationship via a series of energising dates (sky-diving, a covert sea-food restaurant), but soon problems relating to Alexandre’s height cast a shadow over their feelings for each other.
Jean Dujardin (The Artist) portrays Alexandre with an enormous heart but has been digitally shrunk for the role. This could be viewed as inappropriate and makes one wonder how different Up For Love would have been had a genuine smaller person been cast in the role. The film’s key strengths reside in its drama: dialogue between Alexandre and Diane affords a sincere and thought-provoking essence which counteracts the juvenile pratfalls. Diane’s tetchy relationship with her ex-boyfriend/partner (they are in the process of trying to reach an agreement regarding the company) makes for a welcome sub-plot while Alexandre’s love/hate relationship with his mountain dog recalls the classic spats of Clouseau and Kato and may trigger childlike laugh blasts.
Up For Love is garlanded by well-fashioned characters, exceptional performances and addresses issues relating to Alexandre’s height one would imagine being sidelined for soppiness in a more sterilised studio feature or ironically mocked by the likes of Johnny Knoxville, John Waters and Ricky Gervais. Tirard’s film is not a conventional sugar-coated rom-com despite its sick wrangling chart pop soundtrack. Cheap tunes interjected to govern our emotions, when the performances are perfectly capable are doing that, diminish the impact of the drama slightly but the film redeems itself with an ending that will make the most burliest of geezers blubber into their hairy tattooed fists.
Performances by Efira, Durardin and Kahn bejewel Up For Love with emotional heft, make it a zesty and enjoyable watch, frothing with enough sparkle and wit to entertain for the duration but ultimately it’s a touch too fluffy to do anything but float by.