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La Nouvelle Eve Review

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Camille (Viard) is fiercely defensive of her single status, until a chance encounter with Alexis (Rajot) transforms her into a temptress, who is even prepared to embrace his socialist causes in order to prize him away from his family.

★★★★★

Director Catherine Corsini here elects to postmodernise the spirited heroine of 19th century literature for this quizzical comedy of sexual manners. Picture a Jane Austen-scripted, Paris-based episode of Ally McBeal and you're getting warm.

Camille (Viard) is one of those pixie-like girls that French cinema seems to have perfected (see: Jules et Jim, Amelie, et al.), but while she's fascinating, the act is taken dangerously close to the point of irritation. Fortunately, as with almost everyone she meets, she manages to stay on the right side of charming thanks to decent pacing and effective comic timing.

The 'nouvelle' part is a nice irony, as audiences can see (and take comfort in the familiarity of) how little actually changes - at least for the characters who populate these films.

While there's an undoubted prescience about this bittersweet satire, it's too precisely balanced for its own good. Consequently, Camille is as self-centred as she's free-spirited. But, in making little effort to disguise either her caprices or insecurities, the excellent Viard renders her an endlessly fascinating character.

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