18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Genre clash - it's the future,
This review is from: Read My Lips [DVD]  (DVD)
Carla works for a property developer's where she excels in being unattractive, unappreciated and desperate. She is also deaf.
Her boss offers to hire in somebody to alleviate her heavy workload so she uses the opportunity to secure herself some male company. Help arrives in the form of Paul, a tattooed hoodlum fresh out of prison and clearly unsuited to the mannered routine of an office environment.
An implicit sexual tension develops between the two of them and Carla is determined to keep him on despite his reluctance to embrace the working week. When Carla is edged out of an important contract she was negotiating by a slimy colleague she exploits Paul's criminality by having him steal the contract back. The colleague quickly realises that she's behind the robbery, but when he confronts her, Paul's readiness to punch people in the face comes in handy too - but this thuggery comes at a price.
Paul is given a `going over' by some mob acquaintances as a reminder about an unpaid debt. He formulates a plan which utilises Carla's unique lip reading abilities to rip-off a gang of violent bank robbers. It's now Carla's turn to enter a frightening new world.
The fourth feature from director Jacques Audiard, `READ MY LIPS' begins as a thoroughly engaging romantic drama between two marginalised losers only to shift gears halfway through into an edgy thriller where their symbiotic shortcomings turn them into winners. The leads are excellent; effortlessly convincing us that this odd couple could really connect. Carla's first meeting with Paul is an enjoyable farce in which she attempts to circumnavigate his surly reticence and jailbird manners only to discover that he was, until very recently, a jailbird. Emmanuelle Devos, who plays Carla, has that almost exclusive ability to go from dowdy to gorgeous and back again within a frame. Vincent Cassel plays Paul as a cornered dog who only really seems at home when he's receiving a beating or concocting the rip-off that is likely to get him killed.
Like many French films, `READ MY LIPS' appears, at first, to be about nothing in particular until you scratch beneath the surface and find that it's probably about everything. The only bum note is a subplot concerning the missing wife of Paul's parole officer; a device that seems contrived only to help steer the main thrust of the story into a neat little feelgood cul-de-sac.
It was the French `New Wave' of the 60's that first introduced the concept of `genre' to film making and I've always felt that any medium is somewhat compromised when you have to use a system of labels to help define it; so it's always a pleasure to discover a film that seems to transcend genre, or better still, defy it.