The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"LOVE IS IN THE AIR"

Love Is in the Air
Courtesy Focus World

The French title of Love Is in the Air is Amour & Turbulences, which I like a little more, if only because it doesn't get that 1977 John Paul Young song stuck in my head. It's also a more apt description of what the film offers; the turbulence is just as important in the story as the love is. In many respects, this is a traditional romantic-comedy, albeit one brought to us from another country. (You can almost visualize an American remake starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel.) If the story contains many of the well-worn conventions of the genre and it does - it at least assembles them with a modicum of wit, along with some terrific performances that sell the material. The movie turns out to be breezy and fun.

In the opening minutes, we meet our two main characters. Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) is an aspiring artist so disorganized that she needs post-it notes to remind her to read her post-it notes. Antoine (Nicolas Bedos) is a womanizing lawyer with a reputation for being unable to sustain an attraction to a woman for more than two weeks. Julie and Antoine separately board an airplane from New York to Paris and are seated next to each other. To their mutual surprise, it turns out that they are already acquainted. In fact, they had once been in a serious relationship that ended badly. The two initially bicker back and forth, then begin relating their story to the other passengers, who can't help but become engrossed in the personal drama playing out before them. Through flashbacks, we see how they met, how Antoine was willing to finally embrace commitment for Julie, and how their romance came to a crushing end. It's clear that they have unresolved issues and that Antoine desperately wants to reignite things.

There's not much in the plot of Love Is in the Air that you won't see coming a mile away. It sticks closely to the formula of the Bickering Couple Movie, that distinct genre involving two people sparring as a means of hiding the fact that they're crazy for each other. The film does throw in one semi-original twist in the last fifteen minutes, although odds are you'll figure it out right before it happens. Beyond that, everything is strictly by-the-book.

Nonetheless, the movie is a great example of how a familiar formula can be effectively executed. Much of this is due to the work of Sagnier and Bedos. Both actors create likeable, identifiable characters that, as with the passengers on the plane, we feel drawn to. She's emotionally scattered, jealous, and afraid of being hurt. He's a Lothario, but one who is delighted to discover an ability to feel genuine, honest-to-goodness love for a woman. Together, the leads have strong chemistry that makes us believe these two seemingly different people were once deeply in love. The present-day scenes, where they unearth past hurts, have an air of believability. Tenseness between them comes not from mutual dislike, but from the fact that their passion was so intense it made the bad times hurt that much more.

Love Is in the Air is often very funny, with witty lines of dialogue and cleverly conceived scenes (such as Julie's way of dealing with a chauvinist in a restaurant) earning laughs. Director Alexandre Castagnetti provides a light visual touch, using split screens and other, similar devices to create a bouncy feel. For instance, during a montage showing the heat of Julie and Antoine's blossoming relationship, he has illustrations from the Kama Sutra glide across the screen. Castagnetti also pulls off one of the most genuinely romantic scenes I've witnessed in quite some time. It takes place atop the Eiffel Tower at night, and the way it's photographed is breathtaking.

I won't spoil the ending by telling you what happens, but you could easily guess it anyway. It doesn't matter. Love Is in the Air is a charming film about the perils of leaving things unresolved. By getting a chance to find the resolution they didn't get the first time around, Julie and Antoine learn something about each other, but more importantly about themselves. Watching them do so is a treat.

( out of four)


Love Is in the Air is unrated, but contains adult language, nudity, and sexuality. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.


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