Monday, January 27, 2014

Love is in the Air: Ludivine Sagnier’s First Rom-Com

It is a pretty good rom-com premise, but you wouldn’t want to be seated near a couple like this in real life. When two former lovers fitting themselves sitting next to each other on a trans-Atlantic flight, they revisit the end of their affair in Alexandre Castagnetti’s Love is in the Air (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Julie is a sculptor with major jealousy and self-esteem issues. It is not clear what Antoine does, besides womanizing. Obviously, they are polar opposites, so they must be meant for each other. For a while, they really gave it a go, but now Julie is winging her way back to France to marry her predictably buttoned down fiancé.

They seem to have chemistry, so how did it all go wrong? Of course, there were complicating factors, like her career frustrations and judgmental mother.  Antoine similarly had to juggle counseling sessions with his nebbish best friend Franck and the unwelcome attentions of an ex-girlfriend’s nymphish little sister. Mix together and let the farce commence.

Right, so there are no real surprises in store for viewers here—no surreal mindtrips from left field or third act revelations. Air follows the tried and true formula, but its execution is silky smooth. Right from the start, the soundtrack wins us over with Nancy Wilson’s lightly swinging rendition of “I Wish You Love” (which is so much more effective than more maudlin versions). Frankly, Castagnetti is rather shameless milking Paris for all its romantic worth. Even Julie finds it clichéd when they have their first date at the Eiffel Tower, but it works nonetheless.

Ludivine Sagnier has probably never looked lovelier on-screen, but Julie’s assorted anxieties wear a little thin over time. In contrast, Nicolas Bedos looks like a gigolo from central casting, but he actually has his redemptive moments digging out from under all Antoine’s jerkweed behavior down the stretch.  Of course they look good together, but they do develop a considerable amount of romantic X-factor during their courtship scenes.

Air is not exactly a towering accomplishment in cinema, but it is a can’t-miss date movie. If things are working, its romantic trappings will keep the good vibe going.  If not, folks can ogle the attractive cast. Recommended as the sugary confection it is intended to be, Love is in the Air opens this Friday (1/31) in New York at the Quad Cinema.