Romantics Anonymous is a film I wasn't expecting much from, but this low-key neurotic love story is a gem of a film which is frequently funny and constantly heart-warming.
Angelique is a master chocolatier whose chocolates are celebrated for their exquisite quality, but her bashful disposition means that she doesn't feel comfortable with recognition or praise, she prefers to give credit to a fictional hermit and simply be known as the delivery girl. After successfully applying for a job at a small and near-bankrupt chocolate company, she attracts the attention of the boss - he being unaware that the girl he has taken a shine to is a chocolate maker extraordinaire.
They both have secrets however and Jean-René too suffers from confidence issues and has regular counselling for his anxiety when talking to women. Much of the comedy comes from them being oblivious to each other's shy apprehension and confusing the actions of the other to be confidence, Angelique sees Jean-René as taking control of the relationship when in fact he is nervously acting on the 'tasks' set by his therapist. A significant portion of the film is farcical and the characters are often over-the-top but they always somehow feel authentic in a way that French film tends to manage better than most. Romantics Anonymous encourages you to suspend belief and buy into a modern fairytale which looks almost other worldly while still being tangibly real. I'm not usually a fan of romantic comedies because the saccharine sweetness can be nauseatingly fake but this only has one scene which could be considered anything close to cheesy - and by the time it occurs, you actually want it to be.
There's a real magic between the two chocolate lovers and it's an on-screen partnership you are desperate to see work. Both Isabelle Carré and Benoît Poelvoorde bring a natural charm to their roles, Poelvoorde's gift for comedy lends itself to his awkward scenes and Carré is beautiful in naturalistic way - their down-to-earth realism sets them apart from the sort of couple you see in glossy Hollywood films and as a viewer you feel emotionally involved in their developing relationship.
In a nutshell: Neither is aware of their mutual awkwardness, but two people who are handicapped by inhibition give each other strength and they don't even realise it. Their lives are transformed by each other's company, perhaps romance can replace the insecurities which have so far dominated their lives. I should probably give this film 4 stars but it is one of the best films I've seen for a while and I loved it far more than I thought I was going to, for me the film is worthy of 5 stars.