French. The language of love. And it is just one simple phone call in Jean Dujardin’s delicate French accent which triggers the events of Up for Love.
Dujardin plays Alexandre, a dazzlingly successful, charming and well-connected architect who picks up the left behind phone of hot-shot lawyer Diane (Virginie Efira) after she argues with her ex-husband in a restaurant.
The opening scene of director Laurent Tirard’s film gives the impression of an idealistic romantic love which seems very much dead in this day and age of technology – talking to a stranger excitedly leading to a date.
However, it is this first nervous meeting between the pair where the real twist in the tale is revealed… Alexandre is only four feet and five inches tall.
Despite its rom-com origins, Tirard has a more relevant message than just love, as Diane battles with her own hang-ups and those of others around her about her blossoming relationship with a shorter man.
However, a film which is meant to champion acceptance should perhaps refrain from chucking around so many jokes at the diminutive character’s expense.
In today’s world of political correctness gone mad, it does seem rather strange that Diane finds herself in such a situation of crippling self-doubt and soul-searching over her love for a shorter man. It almost seems a bit condescending at times. In one specific scene that takes place in an art gallery, Diane is so dismissive of Alexandra around her mother, it becomes a bit uncomfortable to witness.
With the constant “barrier” of Alexandre’s size the main focus, there isn’t really anywhere else for the film to go, and wide shots showing Dujardin – who thoroughly deserved to win an Oscar for his performance in The Artist – swinging his feet just to emphasise his size are a little bit embarrassing.
Despite the charm offensive from Dujardin, the film seems to lack any punch to its jokes – even a comical run-in with a dog, which is the same size as Alexandre fails to bring out a chuckle. For a rom-com, this is a pretty vital ingredient necessary for success.
Both Efira and Dujardin are charismatic performers, but I think the script and its execution leaves a lot to be desired, leaving this reviewer to believe that Up For Love doesn’t quite measure up to expectations.
Dir: Laurent Tirard
Scr: Marcos Carnevale, Laurent Tirard
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Virginie Efira, Cédric Kahn, César Domboy and Stéphanie Papanian
Prd: Sidonie Dumas, Vanessa van Zuylen and Camille Bonvallet
Music: Éric Neveux
Run Time: 98 minutes
Up For Love is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from 23 November.