Culture Clash Fail in The Names of Love
Nothing screams French crossover comedy like jokes about Auschwitz and childhood sexual abuse, the main rib-ticklers of Michel Leclercs blood-clot-inducing second feature. Co-written with Baya Kasmi, Leclercs partner for the past decade, and apparently inspired by their own culture-clash meet-cute, The Names of Love traces the bumptious courtship between reserved middle-aged veterinarian Arthur Martin (Jacques Gamblin), whose maternal grandparents were killed in the camps, and 20-ish boundary-breaker Baya Benmahmoud (Sara Forestier), the offspring of a radicalized blue-blooded Parisian mother and an Algerian-refugee father. Being molested by her piano teacher as a child has made Baya a political whore, bedding right-wingers to convert them to vaguely defined leftist causes, which conveniently affords us lots of peeks at Forestiers boobs and bush. The backstories of the couple are presented through a series of cloying devices: direct address, flashbacks, younger versions of the protagonists talking to his or her adult selfall in service to the message that anti-Semitism and racism are bad. But the pathetic attempts at outré, taboo-busting humor as sociopolitical commentary cant disguise what this film really is: a mawkish, MOR comedy of manners that even its straw man Nicolas Sarkozy would find suitable for date night.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.