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France 2011
Directed by
Jean-Pierre Ameris
80 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Emma Flanagan
3.5 stars

Romantics Anonymous

Synopsis: Angélique (Isabelle Carré), a timid and awkward chocolatière, applies for a job at a small, failing chocolate factory. For the owner/boss, Jean-René (Benoît Poelvoorde), who is equally maladroit, it is love at first sight. Will these two highly-strung individuals overcome their anxieties and get together, or at least save the business?

From the start, Romantics Anonymous pokes gentle fun left, right and centre. It starts with the title, referencing Alcoholics Anonymous, in which people share their problems with an anonymous group. In this case, Angélique is in group therapy for emotional dysfunctionals, being so shy that she is unable to handle the pressure of being known for her excellent chocolate-making skills, and has hidden behind a cloak of anonymity while producing her wares. Jean-René on the other hand is in private therapy and prefers to disguise his insecurities by interacting with people for as short a time as possible, then retreating to the safe haven of his office, where he reassures himself that he is doing the right thing by avoiding risk.

Forced together by circumstances, Angélique and Jean-René battle reluctant buyers, bankruptcy, quizzical staff and each other, culminating in a finale that will surprise no-one, just as it should be in a film of this type.

As well as the excellent leads, this classic “boy meets girl” tale has a great supporting cast. Particularly amusing are the group therapy attendees and the worldly-wise chocolate factory employees, who get the best lines in this witty confection. The overall production design has a timeless feel to it, and could easily have been made in the era of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), to which homage is paid in one delightful, if somewhat extravagant, sequence. The chocolates on display look delectable, and one particular scene when the factory hands are eating chocolates I was itching to help them out. Chocolate lovers with a taste for the unusual will thrill at Angélique’s descriptions of her new ‘designs,’ for these are very unusual sweets. And to go along with all this delectability, there is an eclectic but apt accompanying score.

There’s not much more to say about the story, which is light-on for drama, but spot-on for deliciousness and never pretends to be otherwise. Romantics Anonymous is just right in its depiction of two oddballs who are meant for each other but who have to overcome urges to flee, fear of failure, and a need to change shirts during a dinner date in order to make it all happen.




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