Halfway through He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not the film literally rewinds itself and starts at the beginning. Only this time we see things through the eyes of another character and the events take on a wildly different feel. I would warn you of spoilers here but that little plot device is literally on the back of the DVD cover. It's on the Amazon description too. And IMDB. Unless you come to this movie completely blind - catch it while flipping through the channels or something - you are going to know the trick.
It's a clever trick at that. Audrey Tautou plays Angélique an art student madly in love with the married Dr. Loïc (Samuel Le Bihan). In the first half, we see things from her perspective and the two seem to involved in a love affair. By the conclusion of her half’s perspective, things seemed to have soured with him acting like a jerk. Rewinded we get his side of the story and it turns out she’s made up the relationship whole cloth and is in fact mentally unstable.
The way they build the story so that you believe her side the first go round is really quite wonderful. We see a lot of small moments that look as if they do have at least some sort of relationship. Then after the rewind we see how those small moments were distorted by her maligned emotional state.
Early in the film, we see her send him a single red rose with a note attached. Presumably she’s written a note and signed it. We see him receive the flower, read the note, and smile. The obvious inference is that he appreciates flowers from her. Yet on the flip side, we get to read the note and realize that she did not sign it and thus he believes the flowers are from his wife.
In another dual scene, we see him drive her home. In her version Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” is playing loud like a romantic scene in a movie and they exchange knowing glances, etc. as he takes her home from a romantic rendezvous. In his version, he briefly speaks with her at a party, recognizes that she is his neighbor, and when he sees her waiting for a cab, he offers a her a ride. That same song is playing, but much softer on his car radio while he’s completely obvious to her affection.
Okay, I really am spoiling things now so I’ll just say that this is all handled very adeptly and it's quite amusing to watch it all unfold, twice.
The film does have some trouble with its tone. It has to be a slightly romantic comedy in the first half and then switch to something more akin to Fatal Attraction in the back half but it never quite pulls either of those off. It's a tough balancing act, and it mostly gets it right, but never enough to make it great.
Audrey Tautou is absolutely adorable. So much so that it's difficult to see her as the crazed stalker she must become by the film’s end. She’s a fine actress, but she never quite pulls off all that she’s being asked to do here.
Still, it's a fun take on both the romantic comedy and femme fatale genres and so cleverly constructed that I never minded its flaws.
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not was previously released on DVD in America (did I mention this film is French?) in 2003. It's long been out of print so its nice to see it back again, this time by First Run Features, even if it is a completely bare-bones version.