Not My Type

Not My Type ★★★½


[originally written as part of my first report from TIFF '14 for The Dissolve; I'd just trashed Men, Women & Children in the previous paragraph.]

On the surface, Lucas Belvaux’s Not My Type (pompous alternate title: Men & Women) appears equally unpersuasive, with a high-concept premise that could easily serve as the basis for a truly dire rom-com. He’s a philosophy professor who quotes Kant in casual conversation and doesn’t even own a TV set! She’s a hairdresser who’s obsessed with Jennifer Aniston’s love life and spends her weekends performing at karaoke bars! How will this relationship ever work?!? Rather than mine such a goofy scenario for comedy, however, Belvaux (Rapt) takes it seriously, allowing both lovers to emerge as complex people who transcend their respective stereotypes, even as they also embody them. The notion that opposites attract is such a tired cliché that, paradoxically, it was ripe for reassessment; working from a novel by Philippe Vilain, Belvaux painstakingly explores all the reasons why it’s true and false, so deftly that it’s hard to be sure whether one is meant to be rooting for the couple or against them. With the wrong actors, it might not have worked, but Not My Type features two of the best performances I’ve seen all year (not just at TIFF), with Emilie Dequenne tearing into her perpetually cheerful dynamo—a role light years removed from her feral, star-making turn as the Dardennes’ Rosetta—and Loïc Corbery finding startling depth and a rich vein of dry humor in his intellectual commitment-phobe. Because a glance at the film’s synopsis does it no favors, it’s buzz-free at the moment, and is liable to slip under the radar, just as all of Belvaux’s previous films have. That’d be a shame, as he’s exactly the sort of underrated talent a festival like this one should help folks discover.

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