A French romance set in India, Un Plus Une follows film composer and lothario Antoine (Jean Dujardin) as he pursues the happily married French ambassador’s wife Anna (Elsa Zylberstein) on her fertility pilgrimage. The handsome and witty pragmatist clashes with the wide-eyed spiritualist but their attraction to one another is unmistakable. In stereotypical French fashion, their version of love is messy and complicated but they both approach their blossoming relationship with blunt openness and maturity, telling each other exactly why they are in love with each other and with other people. Rounding out the strangely white cast is Alice Pol as Antoine’s pianist girlfriend left languishing in France and Christopher Lambert as Anna’s much older husband.
Even with an accomplished and attractive pair of leads, there are many problems with Un Plus Une. First and foremost is the focus of the film. While the first scenes showed the story of how two young Indians met and fell in love (he was in the car that ran her over and he was the one to bring her to the hospital), which was the plot of the film Antoine was flown in from France to compose a score, the Indian actors and director disappear from the story after an strong introduction and implied B-plot intentions. Their absence hovers over the rest of the film, as Antoine drops everything to follow Anna, with unclear repercussions. That in-film production’s title, Juliette and Romeo, is one of many instances of Un Plus Une’s theme of men versus women as Antoine and Anna verbal spar, trading clichéd and polar-opposite views. Memorably, Antoine states that a man perfected is a woman, while Anna’s husband spits out that the difference between men and women is women. However, the film does not offer more than these pithy musings, siding with no one and getting lost in Antoine and Anna’s fraught romance. The film’s disjunctive editing could also have benefitted from some polishing. There are parts that drag interminably and a few confusing time jumps that give no indication of how many weeks or years have passed until explained through dialogue much later. Dream sequences and flashbacks are given no special treatment so it may take a while for the viewer to realize which way the plot is actually going.
Un Plus Une is not completely unwatchable, however. Dujardin gets some truly hilarious lines and his winning smile and effortless acting make it easy to believe in the central romance of the film. Zylberstein is also good, just the right amount of desperate for affection but also warm and elegantly dishevelled in that French way.
Rating: 2 out of 5 hugs from Amma