Review: Non-fiction (aka Doubles vies)

After seeing Non-fiction, I found IMDB’s description of it to be kind of bizarre: Set in the Parisian publishing world, an editor and an author find themselves in over their heads, as they cope with a middle-age crisis, the changing industry and their wives. Whoever wrote that missed the part that Juliette Binoche is more than just an afterthought wife in this flick. For me, she was the most interesting character. Yes, it’s about the imminent demise of the printed page, and both lead men are in that world, but I’m not sure this film is about any middle-age crisis, but more about how two couples cope with infidelity and commitment. The world of publishing is definitely the milieu, and the many discussions of the digital future in the literary world are pretty fascinating. It’s a smart film, but it’s also extremely entertaining.

Publisher Alain (Guillaume Canet, Cezanne et Moi) is married to actress Selena (Binoche) who plays a cop in a series she’s grown very tired of. And author Léonard (Vincent Macaigne) lives with political operative Valérie (Nora Hamzawi), not his first wife. Léonard is known for his thinly veiled autobiographical novels about his infidelities, but his last has not received Alain’s thumbs up. His wife who is in the middle of election season with her candidate doesn’t really give him all that much sympathy. But Selena, with whom he is having an affair is totally on his side. Meanwhile the company Alain has worked for for many years is in the midst of a transition to the digital age, and he and his new digital expert Laure (Christa Theret) are sleeping together, when not disagreeing on the direction the company needs to take. Sounds like any number of French romcoms of the past couple of decades. But what elevates this one is a superb cast and a very witty and intelligent script.

I’ve never enjoyed casual dinner party conversations more. It’s amazing how interesting a discussion of the future of literature and physical books can be. That being said, I’m sure not everyone will be as taken as I was with this kind of talky, intellectual-philosophical intrusion into an otherwise funny film about indiscretion and enduring relationships. It feels a lot like a French Woody Allen flick. But if you like those sorts of films, I highly recommend this one.


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