Too Beautiful for You

This cheerfully perverse french film -- a bonbon spiked with wit and malice -- starts by asking us to accept a preposterous notion: that businessman Bernard, played by the great Gerard Depardieu, would leave his gorgeous, leggy wife, Florence (Carole Bouquet), for short, dumpy Colette (Josiane Balasko), his office temp. It's a tribute to the wicked craft of writer-director Bertrand Blier (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs) that the situation soon seems, well, not inevitable but tantalizing.

Bernard is bored with his wife's cool perfection. Florence talks of their two kids and their parties, while Colette whispers dirty nothings. Mixing fantasy and reality, Blier sometimes has the characters speak directly to the audience. But the comic debate soon turns rueful. Florence is wounded by Bernard's scorn, and Colette is floored by Florence's looks. "Beauty clobbers you," she says. "It hurts."

Awakened to passion by Bernard, Colette giddily tells strangers in a railway station that she's been making love for hours. Later, naked in a hotel under the steely gaze of Florence, she visibly wilts. Balasko, a noted comedienne, is sensational in this demanding role. Too Beautiful for You may have the contours of a romantic comedy, but beware. In Blier's world, playing with love means playing with fire.

From The Archives Issue 574: March 22, 1990
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