With her debut feature-length film celebrating a world premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet is ready to steal the hearts of her audience with Anaïs in Love. If one must take a journey of self-discovery, the countryside of Paris feels like the perfect locale to find oneself; Especially when surrounded by heaps of literature. Anaïs, played by Anaïs Demoustier, is like a whirlwind upon her initial introduction. Forever running late when it comes to her appointments, it’s apparent this is never due to a lack of caring. Rather, she makes it evident she easily gets caught up in the larger machinations of life itself, regardless of whether or not they rely on her involvement. As she hops from story to story, diving deeper into tangents, it seems those around her become deeply overwhelmed in the situation they find themselves placed into. While that may seem frustrating in reality, we are luckily dealing with a film that understands the oddball nature of its lead, and what comes across is a character and film that is a true charm to watch.
With a clear inspiration from “The Ravishing of Lol Stein”, by the acclaimed Marguerite Duras, this plays out like a romantic storybook that weaves between fantastical trappings and crushing reality. Anaïs is depicted to rarely ever be stationary, both literally and figuratively, yet we see her mind consistently running wild with what will come next. As she relays her problems to unsuspecting house guests or family, it seems they have their own agendas. As words fly back and forth, it seems like Anaïs is always called upon to help yet is never truly heard. Bourgeois-Tacquet is able to craft a sympathetic character in her lead, yet never fails to remind the audience she too is the cause of more than a few of her problems. Wrapped up in her own cycle of adultery on the quest for love, Anaïs is like a storm crashing adorably through a room as she goes through life.
With free-flowing camerawork that matches the energy of Anaïs, it’s not a stretch to imagine how methodical Bourgeois-Tacquet must have been while mapping out this film and its characters. While speaking on movement being at the heart of her directing style, Bourgeois-Tacquet noted, “The life and energy aren’t really created afterwards in the editing room: they come from dialogue, the acting, the movement – thus from within the scenes”. Paired with a whimsical score and bright colors that litter France and the wardrobes of our characters, Anaïs in Love is a visual joy to watch if anything. Even down to distinct cinematic rules, Bourgeois-Tacquet knows how to bend them to her will to favor a moment. These intentional breaks, especially in the third act, lend themselves incredibly well to Demoustier’s performance, as well as the overall craft of the film. Cinematic rules and tropes are even abandoned at times in lieu of something more honest, both romantically and realistically.
As the film comes to a close, this slice of life feels acutely wrapped up with so much more to think about. Once the curtain closes on any piece of art, the true determining factor is whether or not you wonder about where these characters will go next. This is the case with Anaïs in Love, not out of a sense of incompletion, but rather due to the charm of Demoustier. W asked about her character, Demoustier said, “Anaïs truly believes that everything is possible”, and the ending makes those possibilities known. A genuinely happy, and sometimes carefree, attitude is the essential energy for others in your life at times. Breaking through a comfort zone lends itself to not only freedom, but more opportunities at joy and finding what may not be so apparent at first glance. Anaïs understands this, and hopefully with this film, Bourgeois-Tacquet can have everyone in her audience understand it as well.
Magnolia Pictures will release ANAÏS IN LOVE in theaters April 29, 2022 and On Demand May 6, 2022.