54th BFI London Film Festival – D’Amour et D’Eau Fraiche

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D’Amour et D’Eau Fraiche

Directed by Isabelle Czajka

In her sprightly second feature D’Amour et D’Eau Fraiche (Living On Love Alone), rising French director Isabelle Czajka tells the story of Julie (Anaïs Demoustier), a 23 year old arts school graduate who is slowly learning that  things are tough in the current job market. Like the generations before her Julie works hard and plays hard, juggling administrative duties in a prestigiously chic Paris design studio during the week whilst dabbling in clubbing and causal sex during the weekends. Her opportunity soon descends into exploitation as she is cajoled into running errands and babysitting the director’s children when she should be gaining an education in the contours of the business. She soon finds herself back on the market and an impromptu role-playing test for a soul-destroying job as a sales rep provides one silver lining: she gets to meet the handsome Ben, and soon a burgeoning relationship develops. Escaping to the south France for a weekend break  she makes a disquieting discovery, as it seems that Ben travels with a pistol and there may be other sides to this young man that she hasn’t foreseen.

It’s nice to see some unknown faces on the screen and behind the camera, and overall Living On Love Alone is a briskly paced, capable dramedy with modest intentions.  There is some sly criticism of the current predominance of twenty somethings overpaying for tiny flats in metropolitan centres, the struggles of forging a career in a diminishing (and pretentious) job market and the unwelcome societal pressures from parents and siblings on what constitutes being a success these days, but these qualities are kept low in the mix as the film concentrates on Julie’s story and journey. Demoustier provides a convincing performance of a young woman simultaneously confident in her sexuality yet quietly frightened by the realities of day-to-day life, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her in the years to come. As the film transmutes into a lovers-on-the-run tale during its final crescent it loses some of its charm, but perhaps Czajka was aiming for some sort of reality check on the traditional romanticism that those films usually exhibit. A film exhibiting talents to watch.

John McEntee

visit the official site for the 54th BFI London Film Festival

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