MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Look at Me" (Comme Une Image) is sophisticated, smart, witty, incisively written and a cogent look at New Millennium Celebrity and it's effects on family and friends. As opposed to the USA, except for a few exceptions like Stephen King, in France, writers are revered and celebrated as much, and sometimes more, than Movie and TV stars. Jean Pierre Bacri plays Etienne Cassard, a famous writer around whom several people revolve: his pretty but plump daughter forlornly named Lolita (Marilou Berry), his young trophy wife Karine (Virginie Desarnauts) and Sylvia and Pierre Miller (Agnes Jaoui and Laurent Grevill): Sylvia is Lolita's voice teacher and Pierre is an unsuccessful writer who lucks into a meeting with Cassard through the connection between his wife and her pupil. Lolita is like her father is some ways, mostly negative though: she rails at her friends and family in a bratty way and though she resents her father's wealth and social position she has no qualms about asking him for money or using his name as a way a garnering friendships. On the other hand she is shy, too self-conscious about her Ruebenesque figure and in one scene doesn't have the guts to demand access to a party given in her father's honor. Lolita craves a boy named Matthieu, who openly flirts and even kisses other girls in front of her and yet, when she meets someone who actually likes her for herself, Sebastien, she has no idea how to deal with him. Bacri's Etienne Cassard is a smug, opinionated, stuck on himself emotional thug: he wants all the love and admiration yet offers nothing in return but ridicule and a kind of feigned love. He is rude to waiters, to cab drivers: all of those people that he feels are beneath him in social status. His idea of parenting is to complain to his young wife, while they are weekending in the country: "Can't you keep that kid quiet...I came out here for some peace and quiet." Marilou Berry plays Lolita like the ultimate victim but, like her father, she can be irritating and irritable: she cries, pouts and generally acts like a big spoiled brat. But Lolita has a heart and is capable of love, if not the wherewithal emotionally to recognize it when it is 12 inches from her face. The emotional world of "Look at Me" is the world of the dysfunctional: both emotionally and socially these people operate at the highest level...and because they are famous, they are tolerated at least and loved at best. As directed and written by Agnes Jaoui and co-written by Bacri, "Look At Me" is about our obsession with the surface of things: if he/she is beautiful then he/she must be ok, happy, fulfilled. More to the point "LAM" is about how we've become obsessed with celebrity and how this pursuit of fame and fortune can obfuscate, alter forever and derange our lives and relationships. "Look At Me" is ultimately then, an acidic look at the pursuit of fame, at the celebrity derived from fame and at the exorbitant price we must pay in human currency for it's fleeting, always ready to move on costly pleasures.
N. De-Sica | Israel | 05/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I believe that films are suppose to make the world a better place. no body is perfect. there is no "hero". Look AT ME is a film about people (not perfect people) made for people (as perfect as we can be). it is gentle and touching and made me think how can I becaome a better person, it made me laugh and cry about our behaviour and at the end, filled me with hope and with love.
"look at me" is a human need
the acting, score, dialog, editing are faboules. I wish to thank the director for giving me another gift."
Convincing because of its intelligence....but not intriguing
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 05/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes there's a fine line between convincing and intriguing. Here's one of those cases--a French film that cries out for recognition, exactly simulating its title and its female lead, an overweight vocally talented girl in her 20s whose father, an arrogant prig, is a successful writer/publisher and with whom she has an abrasive relationship because of it.
The film convinces because there is much to admire in the often intelligent dialogue and the acting as well is quite good. But just as often, the focus of the interchange between characters is so petty that just as the co-writer/director/actress of this film (Agnes Jaoui) says in one scene of a specific character, it's "tiresome".
The casting is right on target and the acting, as noted, is excellent. But to continually have characters squabble about the same thing over and over again noticeably takes away from the substance of the film. Yet one of the pluses here is the music--a glorious panorama of Schubert songs, Mozart, Beethoven, Spanish folk-pop and even American hip-hop, and they all work. It's actually a huge relief when Lolita (the overweight girl) sings with her group because we are relieved from the tiresome pettiness of dysfunctional family interchange and can listen to some truly uplifting sounds.
This is not really a bad film, but instead is one which, in repeatedly stating to its audience "attention will be paid", decidedly lessens its impact."
What price glory?
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"COMME UNE IMAGE (LOOK AT ME) is a tough little film that practically defies the viewer to love it. Rated as a comedy, it has few chuckles of the usual kind, but the smart tidy script delivers more of the Reformation-type comedy - wit with a bite. Writer/director and star Agnès Jaoui (her co-author is her ex-husband Jean-Pierre Bacri who also stars) is obviously an intelligent, observant, caustic chronicler of contemporary French society who dotes on celebrities at the expense of their own self-respect. Not a single character in this film is likeable, but each one is fascinatingly interesting and a bit warped. Their interaction provides the venom that in Jaoui's hands raises the bar on the range of comedy.
Étienne Cassard (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a famous writer whose latest novel has been 'transformed' into a schmaltzy film about which he is loathsomely embarrassed. He is caustic, acerbic, and emotionally negligent of both his grown obese daughter Lolita (Marilou Berry), who devotes her resentful life in an attempt to being a famous concert singer, and to his new wife Karine (Virginie Desarnauts) and little daughter. Lolita's music coach is Sylvia (Agnès Jaoui) whose demands on her students reflect her frustrated life being married to an unknown author Pierre (Laurent Grévill). Odd paths cross and it is through Lolita's influence as the daughter of a famous writer Étienne that Sylvia arranges for Pierre to join forces with Étienne and gain acceptance and popularity, but the consequences include Sylvia's increased tutelage for Lolita and her group of fellow madrigal singers.
Lolita comes the closest to being a character about whom we care. She is distraught about her weight, her distant father, her stepmother and stepsister, her inability to gain the affection for the boy of her dreams, her struggle to become a significant performer - all of which prevents her from recognizing the man who could salvage it all - Sébastien (Keine Bouhiza) who literally falls at her feet!
All of these characters interact in complex and at times trying ways, ever cognizant of the 'authority of celebrity' and the results of these engagements form the body of the film. The acting is on a high level, the dialogue is crisp and smart, and the musical background for this mélange is a gorgeous mixture of classical music ranging from Buxtehude through Schubert ('An die Musik' plays a big role!) and many others. This 'comedy' is more intellectual than entertaining, but if wit and elegance of acting brings you joy, then this is a film to see. In French with subtitles at a long 2 hours! Grady Harp, August 05"
Engrossing family drama
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 09/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Look at Me" is a talky but generally interesting French drama about a teenage girl's attempt to earn the love and recognition of her strangely distant father. Lolita is an overweight, aspiring singer who has lived in the shadow of her parent, a self-absorbed but successful novelist, all her life. Even though Etienne seems to care for his very young second wife and five-year-old daughter, he appears to have little interest in Lolita. Indeed, when he isn't completely ignoring her, in public or in private, he is wounding her with deprecating comments about her talent and weight. In the film's other major plot strand, Lolita's voice coach, Sylvia, is also married to an author, Pierre, who has been having trouble getting published of late, until she uses Lolita to secure him an introduction to the young protégé's father.
For the most part, "Look at Me" doesn't go for big flashy dramatic scenes but rather tells its story in a low-keyed way by having its characters interacting in traditionally continental social settings like restaurants, taxicabs and vacation homes in the country. Virtually all the characters suffer from some form of unhappiness or depression caused by their inability to create the lives they want. Lolita spends most of her time brooding over the fact that she can't get her father to acknowledge her existence, let alone support her in her endeavors. One of Lolita's biggest complaints is that people - and that includes boys - tend to befriend her solely as a means of "getting to" her famous father. Even her music teacher uses her for that purpose (though this is one time when Lolita seems unaware of it). So paranoid has Lolita become on this score that she even keeps at arm's length a young man who is obviously genuinely interested in having a relationship with her. The two authors, to varying degrees, have feelings of inadequacy and frustration brought on by either self-doubt about their talent or the fear that have begun to "dry up" as a writer.
For the most part, this is a compelling tale about people who feed off one another and compromise their values to get what they want. Etienne is, in many ways, the most interesting character because he seems genuinely unaware of the callous way he treats others, but he is also the most frustrating in that some of his most boorish actions in regards to his daughter don't always ring totally true. For instance, it is highly unlikely that even he would get up and leave in the middle of his daughter's concert performance to take a stroll outside, then completely ignore her at a party he throws for her afterwards. Too often, we feel as if he is being mean and thoughtless more as a plot device than as a genuine reflection of his character. The film's other intriguing secondary character is Sylvia, the music teacher, who really seems to be the voice of conscience in the story.
Despite that flaw, "Look at Me" succeeds more often than not at weaving a complex tapestry out of a variety of interesting and colorful characters. To that end, the film features fine ensemble work by Marilou Berry, Jean-Pierre Bacri and Agnes Jaoui, who also co-wrote and directed the movie."