Judge Joel Pearce writes stories where he gets lots of hot French chicks.
Can you write yourself into a love story?
Despite a few decent performances and an interesting premise, Toi & Moi is a dour soap opera that takes itself much too seriously. Whether you are looking for a romantic comedy, a tear-inducing chick flick, or a French art film, this will probably leave you wanting more—and less.
Facts of the Case
Ariane (Julie Depardieu, Rush Hour 3) is a romance author for a magazine, who writes herself and her unhappy cello-playing sister Lena (Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose) into her column. In the stories, they live wild and fascinating love lives, but the reality is quite different. They are both in crappy relationships, but are drawn to sexy strangers who reflect their literary counterparts much more closely. Will they find true love? Will they spend half of the movie crying on their respective couches? Will they find true happiness together as sisters? Only time will tell…
At the start, Toi & Moi is an insightful and impressive tale about the relationship dysfunction that can run through a family. Both sisters have relationship struggles, but for the opposite reasons. Ariane is a romantic, and expects that her love life will reflect her romance writing. She is in a lousy relationship, and she tries to compensate by pushing ever closer. Lena is also in a relationship with a man who doesn't love her, and she defends herself by distancing herself from him emotionally. Both sisters end up trying to solve their problems with infidelity, which is more believable for Ariane than Lena.
Like most romantic movies, Toi & Moi is driven by coincidence. Ariane and Lena both run into Bart coincidentally. Then, he coincidentally shows up to a party they are throwing. It's just all a bit too convenient, and then the love stories really get going. And going, and going.
In the end, Toi & Moi winds up being not a love triangle, but a love pentagon. The two sisters are both drawn to Bart, but also have lovers of their own, and are also seduced by other men, who are also involved with other women. It's like a whole season of a bad soap opera crammed into two hours, except that it's all taken so seriously. The only potentially stylized portion are Ariane's fantasy literary sequences, but these are repetitive and wear on us too quickly. The rest of the movie consists of people arguing, people looking at each other longingly, and people crying alone.
Not really my idea of a good time.
The performances are okay, especially from Marion Cotillard, who truly is a top-notch actress. Like her breakout performance in La Vie En Rose, though, this is not a film deserving of her talents. The script here is bland, and the rest of the actors don't live up to her. This is especially true of Depardieu, who seems to have watched too many soaps and not enough serious films.
The DVD represents a decent effort by Koch Lorber, though it's certainly not reference quality. The black level is a bit soft, giving the film a slightly washed-out look. The audio is better, especially given that it's so dialogue driven. There are no special features, but that's not too much of a surprise.
My recommendation for just about everyone: don't bother with this one. There are so many great romance films out there—indeed it's one of the most common international genres—there's no reason to spend time watching bad romances, especially ones as heavy-handed at Toi & Moi. The only question it really answers is whether you can fit a whole television series plot into a 90 minute film. To save you some time: no, you can't.
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