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En Avoir (Ou Pas) Reviews

This incisive, melancholy love story opens with a disparate group of women being interviewed for a dreary position as a switchboard operator, setting the stage for French writer/director Laetitia Masson's evocation of the world of two ordinary people trapped in capitalism's unfeeling coils. Alice, (Sandrine Kiberlain) a spunky 26-year-old with only a high school degree, is fired from her rotten fish-packing job. In a particularly wrenching and honest scene, Alice interviews for the switchboard job, but, unable to pull off even the semblance of poise, is reduced to tears. She flees to Lyons, where construction worker Bruno (Arnaud Giovaninetti) dreams of playing soccer and having a real relationship with a woman but leaves a stench of forlorn depression in his wake. Although we know these two lonely people will cross paths, nothing about their relationship is predictable; they're drawn together not so much by what each finds uplifting and life-affirming in the other, but rather by their shared knowledge that romance is dead and the world is a bleak and soul-destroying place. The biggest surprise is that Masson manages to make this rather grim material engaging without ever allowing it to become maudlin or sentimental.