Love Tangles

French director Olivier Peray once taught probability theory in college, and appropriately enough his 1997 debut is a boulevard farce about two lovers trying to second-guess each other's motives. The affair between Lionel (Bruno Putzulu), a book editor, and Claire (Smadi Wolfman), a travel agent, starts out as a wager between Lionel and his office mates, who've nicknamed him “sex machine,” but it takes off in an unexpected direction, with constant role reversals and revelations of fragile male ego. The lovers? banter recalls the insouciance of Rohmer's similarly bemused characters, though Peray?s characters aren?t as sharply observant or deviously witty, and the film's unrelenting sassiness grates after a while, especially when the breakups and betrayals are handled with no more than a shrug of the shoulders. The cast is a saving grace: Putzulu is a master of deadpan and boyish sincerity, and Wolfman is at once spunky and playfully sexy.

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