July 2002
Read my Lips : (Sur Mes Levres)

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

Read my Lips - (Sur Mes Levres)

Distributor: Magnolia Films
Director: Jacques Audiard
Screenwriter: Jacques Audiard & Tonino Benacquista
Cinematographer: Mathieu Vadepied
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Running Time: 115 min
Language: In French with subtitles
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Devos, Olivier Gourmet, Olivier Perrier, Olivia Bonamy

Where does one go when they want to see films that have some substance? Most of the films released by major studios donít carry a lot of weight. Itís the star, the genre, or a sequel that brings a mass audience to the theaters. The stories are completely forgotten. Well, thank god for independent and foreign films. They are the bearers of substance, even if some of the stories are always well constructed; thereís always some meat to the story. In the French film READ MY LIPS; itís the story that carries the films. Both actors are appealing and the writing is original to say the least. Nominated for nine Cesars (the equivalent of an Oscar), this film is thrilling and romantic that should please an audience looking for a good film without checking their brain at the door.

Carla (Devos) is an hearing impaired single woman working as a secretary in a real estate firm/ development property firm. She goes alone home alone and occasionally hangs out with her girlfriends. When the workload gets to be too much for her, she asks for an assistant. She makes up the qualifications like a personal ad. What she gets is a 25 years ex-con named Paul (Cassel). Sheís immediately attracted to him but keeps her feelings to herself. Paul is frustrated at doing copies all day long and consistently reporting to his parole officer. When an old acquaintance shows up at the jobs and beats Paul up, Paul confesses to Carla that he owes someone a lot of money. Sensing her attraction to him and her ability to lip-read, Paul convinces Carla to join him in a scheme off getting some money. Carla sense the danger involve but goes along because she wants to be closer to Paul.

Whatís enchanting in this film is the suspense it draws on different levels. Will Carla tell Paul how she feels? Does Paul feel the same? Will he find a way out of his money troubles? Both actors do a good with their expressions. When Carla takes off her hearing aid, the film goes mute. Cassel is exciting as the ex-con trying to survive in the world again. The writing to the cinematography are aces all around. Everything is unpredictable, which is great because it increase our level of interest. ďRead My LipsĒ is a film that works because of the characters. Director Audiard has written a great screenplay thatís compelling and thought-provoking.


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