Few rationally-thinking females jump out of planes at 10,000 feet with a smooth-talking chap they met only an hour previously. But this is the movies, so men and women are swept up in carefree spontaneity and abandon, ignoring the inherent dangers of a tandem skydive with a complete stranger. It’s this kind of unadulterated silliness that typifies Laurent Tirard’s Up for Love – an enjoyable, bright and breezy, yet vacuous remake of Corazon de Leon by Argentinian writer-director Marcos Carnevale. It’s a well-travelled story which flips between fairytale idealism, slice of life semi- sincerity and a sporadically amusing rom-com that hits expectant notes but for one small detail.
Inhabiting the perfect sheen of picture postcard sunlit settings of Riviera high society is Diane (Virginie Efira). A stunningly beautiful, high-flying lawyer, she is embroiled in a bitter and drawn out divorce from the man with whom she shares a practice. It’s complicated, but so far so Hollywood. Arriving home one night she receives a phone call from a man who has found her lost mobile phone. Charming, unassuming and softly spoken, he sounds like every girl’s dream beau. They arrange to meet for her possession to be returned but here’s the rub: her dashing white knight who will surely save her from the clutches of singledom is not the tall, dark, handsome stud she had imagined. Alexandre (Jean Dujardin, whose unquestionable charisma and comic timing goes some way to rescuing Up for Love) is only 4ft 5. However, his disarming smile and unabashed confidence has her in a parachute in no time. Once accustomed to the initially off-putting ‘Honey I shrunk the Dujardin’ digital refiguring of the French star, a viewer experiences the blossoming of a tender romance.
Whether love will indeed prove to be blind and conquer all is then pitted against learned societal norms and taboos. Will Diane accept Alexandre for who he is? Do other people’s opinions matter? It’s never really in doubt. Un homme à la hauteur, the original French title, alludes to a man measuring up in more than a literal sense but the finished film does not demonstrate such nuance. Any indictment of prejudices against Alexandre, or the suggestion of condemning ‘normal’ people’s treatment of minorities falls by the way side as he is flattened by the family dog, bought a child’s sweater, and struggles to reach napkins placed on top of a bookshelf. Playing for cheap laughs, there’s never much sense of sympathy and it’s all just a little poorly judged. None more so than the character of Diane’s mother (played by Manoëlle Gaillard), who, though married to a deaf man, so balks at the notion of her daughter with a midget that she drives the wrong way down a road, hurtling into traffic.
The gawking looks Alexandre receives as a man of diminutive size are counterbalanced by men ogling Diane with rubber-necking obviousness during an early walk to work montage. Up for Love lacks tact and substance but its leads make it a watchable, albeit bite-size, jaunt.
Matthew Anderson | @behind_theseens