Foreign Film Friday -Romantics Anonymous (2010)

When the opening credits began with a French version of the song I Have Confidence from the Sound of Music, it set the tone and immediately convinced me that I would love this film.

A French-Belgian film originally titled, Les Emotifs Anonymes, Romantics Anonymous introduces us to Angelique, a woman crippled by shyness. We see her faint in her group meeting, for which the film is named, but she works up enough courage to attend her interview with the owner of The Chocolate Mill.

When we first meet Jean-Rene, he is introduced to us and to Angelique as a mean man, but it turns out he is also socially challenged and unable to deal with many simple human interactions. Although the interview between these extreme introverts is awkward, Angelique manages to impress him with her knowledge of chocolate and he offers her the job. The only problem is that she thinks that she will be making chocolate and he just hired her as a sales representative to help boost the shop’s faltering sales enough to keep it out of bankruptcy.

On her sales rounds, Angelique discovers that although their buyers think the chocolate is good, it is not exceptional and neither does it live up to current trends in the market. But she has a secret. Angelique is a gifted chocolatier who has had extreme success in the past with her chocolate recipes. The trouble is that she sold her chocolates anonymously. But with the shop in jeopardy, Angelique is convinced that she can help.

In the midst of the chocolate shop story line is a concurrent one about the relationship that develops between Jean-Rene and Angelique. As you can imagine, with their personality challenges it is a very awkward and bumpy path they travel. They are immediately stricken by one another, but their own insecurities keep cropping up as obstacles.

However, it is this relationship that dares them both to conquer their fears. Their attempts at stepping outside of their comfort zones are sweet and poignant.

I love how Jean-Rene’s therapist and Angelique’s support groups play such an important role in their personal growth. The weekly assignments the therapist gives to Jean-Rene lead to some humorous scenes as we watch him struggle with completing them.

Angelique seems to have less of a struggle than Jean-Rene and I adore how she uses I Have Confidence as her theme song and life motto when she encounters situations which scare her. It is a beautiful homage to a well-loved film.

I also appreciate how this film made a love interest and hero out of a middle aged man with a Roman nose and receding hairline. Most American movies are populated with heroes who are macho men that are too good looking to be true. By using actors and characters who look like your average person on the street, the viewer is better able to relate to them. I have never seen a male protagonist whose appeal was in his weakness.

As usual for a romantic film made in France the scenery in the background is both charming and breathtaking. I could move into the hotel room with the golden wallpaper, elegant antiques and warm wooden accents and of course the little shops and cafes make me want to idle away an afternoon.

Aside from a scene of implied physical intimacy, this is a clean film which I wholeheartedly recommend. It is currently streaming on Amazon.

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