Someone, Somewhere (Deux Moi) – French Film Festival 2019 – Film Review
Ever since watching the irrepressible travel comedy, Pot Luck (L’Auberge Espagnole) the films of Cédric Klapisch have been on my radar. Someone, Somewhere certainly does not deviate from the style expected of a Klapisch film with its enjoyable, light-hearted gaze on relationships. As such, its overall themes did feel familiar with the expectation of a meet-cute between the two protagonists but Someone, Somewhere fortunately eschews such romantic comedy tropes in favour of more complex themes.
It was the last film that I watched during the French Film Festival but had certainly been one of the films that I had highlighted within my post regarding films to see during the French Film Festival. Klapisch is a regular at the French Film Festival and has visited the Institut Français here in London on several occasions and so there was a natural camaraderie on display with the festival programmer which was delightful to witness.
Concepts such as visiting psychoanalysts and being lonely, despite being surrounded by many in a big city, are the central tenets of the film. Mélanie and Rémy’s lives run in parallel to each other’s and yet they never quite connect for that meet-cute scenario. Possibly, this plot device may seem contrived but actually it is representative of our modern day dilemma of having a lack of connection to our neighbours, how many of us truly know our neighbours on a first name basis? This element is also touched upon at varying moments within the film as the protagonists resort to using technology to meet others, as so many of us do these days! But there will be more to come on that later.
Unusually, for a Klapisch film, such heavy hitting matters are at the fore with any sign of a romantic relationship sidelined over the course of the film. Someone, Somewhere therefore remains intriguing as there is that permanent question reverberating throughout the film as to when Mélanie and Rémy, amiably played by François Civil and Ana Giradot, would eventually meet. This question starts to become a reduced concept given the other issues tackled but still creates a level of suspense.
Sensitively depicted, there are questions posed as to our perceptions of love and our expectations which are delivered through some witty scenes on the respective psychoanalyst’s couch. The scenes cleverly juxtapose Mélanie and Rémy’s therapy sessions providing that contrast between one psychoanalyst’s colourfully floral working space, I wouldn’t mind visiting such a decorated office, and the non-descript décor in the other. Conversely, the protagonists worlds are greatly intertwined, unbeknownst to them, with a later revelation that their psychoanalysts know each other, in a very insightful scene.
It is rare for French comedies and indeed French films to explore this element of mental health to this degree. Klapisch during the Q&A indicated that it was effectively taboo in France for such elements of therapy to be raised as a discussion point, there is stunned silence when one of the protagonists admits seeing a psychoanalyst to family members; as such, Someone, Somewhere will possibly be a springboard to highlighting such issues.
Someone, Somewhere also offers social commentary on wide-ranging issues such as depression, grief and isolation. It seeks to examine those elements of human relationships that are discarded or ignored in day to day life in favour of immediate gratification. Deliberately, the film takes its time to examine such concepts and is a slow burner as a result. However, your patience will be rewarded with the effective editing and cinematography.
We therefore witness the day to day activities of the protagonists seeking to make those connections via interactions with the owner of the local Middle Eastern supermarket and their surrounding group of family and friends. However, as may be evident during moments in life, there may still be an increasing sense of loneliness. The sessions with the psychoanalysts therefore operate as a device to explore that notion, which is effective. Equally, the wide angle shots during the film’s opening visualises that isolation and sense of being alienated whilst anonymously commuting on busy trains.
There was an earlier mention in this post of the role of technology as a medium employed to seek romantic connections. In these times, it does appear to be a popular method to meet others in busy cities and Someone, Somewhere reflects such practice but does not reserve its judgement. One scene in particular was very amusing to me where Mélanie and her friends turn a Tinder set up session into a girls’ night in with hilarious results! The display of the messages sent through the technological applications does offer a unique approach to an already tested theme. Apparently such scene was improvised and it is a delight to watch!
Klapisch during the Q&A admitted that, in his view, the use of technology to facilitate connections with others has paradoxically resulted in a growing degree of isolation. This message permeates throughout the film and therefore Klapisch seems to join a legion of established cinéastes commenting about the negative impact of modern technological platforms on life and cinema.
It must be said that Someone, Somewhere offers some beautiful, panoramic shots of pristine, snow capped mountains to immerse yourself within. Those snowy, long angle shots portray that sense of isolation perfectly and I would certainly draw your attention to such evocative scenes! Someone, Somewhere is an easy watch but captures the awkwardness that may be encountered within human interactions as we have probably all been privy to an embarrassing dating encounter or the inability to communicate with loved ones. Someone, Somewhere holds a light up to those moments and exposes these human conditions tenderly whilst delivering the message that self-love is important.
Histoire d’un Amour is the name of one of the diegetic songs and it is extremely apt as Someone, Somewhere’s resonating theme is simply that of a love story. The love on display is that for our fellow man, our family and especially love for ourselves. It is a heartwarming message amongst the more sombre, emotional moments within the film. Despite knowing that the film could effectively be billed as a romantic comedy, it is perhaps more of a soul searching comedy. Klapisch indicated that its premise may have been based on a long term relationship he was within where he felt that loss of identity, which is therefore a theme explored in Someone, Somewhere as well. Additionally, the film is equally personal to Klapisch’s experiences as his mother is a psychoanalyst.
The film does well to combine its light hearted sentiment with poignancy and social commentary. Perhaps the elements of catharsis may be a tad predictable but, Someone, Somewhere is an ideal film to watch on that Saturday night at home with a glass of wine. Oh, and as a spoiler, there is a very cute cat in the film!