It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film featuring a subjective close-up of tears falling on a crumpled love letter. Beautiful Lies is a romantic comedy of confusion, of the sort built around anticipation of the moment when the characters reveal their true feelings for each other. It’s also one of those films that delays the lead characters’ discovery of each other’s true motives: when will a know the truth about b’s feelings for a, and when will b realise that a has done so… As a big tease and reveal tactic this rarely fails, and might be termed the Baxter-Kubelik resolution, after its most perfect cinematic demonstration.
This time round, I thought 'when will a realise the truth about b' was handled rather better than 'when will b realise that a has realised', the latter moment being somewhat thrown away in a rush of last-minute plotting.
It's a little long, and on the whole I preferred Priceless, but this is not the kind of film one is supposed to judge on the grounds by which we all tend to judge movies in the home entertainment age, ie: how will it stand up on the 275th viewing?
This is a film like a fifties Bardot comedy, to be watched and enjoyed, perhaps just once, and then forgotten about even, but with no hard feelings on either side. Just a movie. Bring on the next. The only difference is that they don’t bring on the next anything like as swiftly and easily as they used to, which is why each new trifle has to be sold as if it were a main course, and on those grounds alone Beautiful Lies might disappoint. But it shouldn’t, and the more people go to see things like this the more of it they’ll make for you. I can think of no higher praise for the film than to say that I enjoyed it thoroughly, and have already forgotten most of it.
Audrey Tautou is on good, typical form, albeit with an audaciously short hairdo and looking far too thin: she spends the whole film in trousers until a very short scene at the end, and her legs are like breadsticks.