Thursday, November 12, 2009

In short: Love Bites (2001)

Not to be confused with other rather forgettable films called Love Bites.

The young Parisian Antoine (Guillaume Canet) spends his nights freeloading at any party and club he can talk himself into, and sleeps through the day in the fitness club where he lives.

One night, he pretends to be the friend of a certain absent Jordan (Orazio Massaro) to get into an upper class party. A mysterious older man (Jean-Marie Winling) is very interested in their supposed connection, since he is trying to get a hold of Jordan. Even after hearing that Antoine doesn't even know how that Jordan person looks, the weird stranger still decides to hire the nightlife specialist to find the guy. For one million Franc, Antoine can hardly decline the offer.

But even with the help of his friend Etienne (Gerard Lanvin), who is well-connected in the world of the sleazy and the slimy, Jordan is a very difficult man to find. The things Antoine hears about his target aren't too promising anyway - he seems to be in the business of biting people in the neck. And he's only ever seen by night. My, whatever might his secret be?

Finally, Antoine manages to run into Jordan's sister Violaine (Asia Argento), herself known for sometimes taking a bite out of people. Nonetheless (and not all that surprising seeing that she is played by Asia Argento after all), our hero lands in a hotel room with her, but being drugged up and finding himself scratched and roughed up on the street the next day was probably not exactly what he was after.

Still, he is clearly fascinated by Violaine, and isn't even willing to stop his investigation when it is starting to get rather dangerous.

Love Bites could have been quite a film - a comedy about vampires as part of the Parisian nightlife sounds promising enough, at least.

Unfortunately, neither the film's script nor its director Antoine de Caunes seem to have much of an idea what to do with their basic concept, sidelining the vampire angle completely, instead concentrating on showing us Canet's Antoine not doing much in a lot of bars and clubs. The actual plot could be condensed to about thirty minutes of film.

This is not to say that the rest of the film is completely forgettable, but for every neat (if irrelevant for either mood, plot, character or theme) little joke and amusing absurdity, there are two or three scenes whose use in the film I can find no explanation for.

It would probably be easier if I'd find Antoine as charming as he is supposed to be, but Canet plays him with a combination of smarminess and blandness that is never anything else but punchable.

So the main weight of the acting has to be carried by Asia and Gerard Lanvin. Unfortunately, the former might be as sexy as ever, but isn't allowed to do much else. A small wonder when you keep in mind how seldom she is actually present, because another scene of nothing happening is deemed more interesting. Lanvin for his part is just the friendly character actor giving support.

Still, I found myself mildly entertained by the film - the scenes which work really do it quite well, and I'm always happy to find a comedy that doesn't absolutely annoy me.

Just don't expect more of the film than mild entertainment, and you're good.


No comments: