Cinéfranco 2015: ‘Not My Type’ finally gives us a realistic rom-com heroine

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It seems the French really know how to talk about romantic love in an honest and endearing way, or so it seems in Lucas Belvaux‘s newest film, Not My Type, which premieres at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Saturday April 18 at 5 p.m.

Loïc Corbery stars as Clement, a philosophy professor with a too-logical take on love which, when applied to his actual love life, always results in the broken hearts of the women who fall in love with him. When he’s forced to move to the small French town of Arras, this Parisian is distraught, until the move results in his meeting Jennifer (Émilie Dequenne), a spunky hairdresser and single mother who takes all the emotional risks she can even if it ends in heartache.

This mismatched couple end up making a surprisingly well-suited pair, with Jennifer surprising Clement with her Kantian way of thinking, and Clement learning to let loose and just enjoy the moment whether it’s singing karaoke, reading aloud or just sitting at the beach and watching the water. But as is the case with any romantic dramedy, a secret breaks the couple up and though they eventually reunite, it may not be the happily ever after we expect it to be.

Jennifer is such a memorable character, not only for her quirk and spark but also for her impressive confidence and sense of self-worth. In one scene, Clement tells her she is beautiful and instead of accepting an empty compliment, she enlightens him to her views on beauty: some people could be considered universally beautiful, but she herself is nothing more than attractive. She delivers this soliloquy without an ounce of self-pity. She’s not upset, nor does she resent the fact that she doesn’t see herself as beautiful. She happily recognizes her positive traits, but refuses to pretend to be something she is not.

Being a single, working mother and yearning for the schoolgirlish true love that all rom-com heroines seem to crave still doesn’t make her like any of the other women who are the protagonists of such films. Jennifer’s life does not revolve around her son, though she loves him unconditionally, and she is especially not willing to just settle for someone who will not match her passion and dedication to the relationship.

I was rooting was Jennifer and applauded every decision she made throughout this film from refusing to kiss Clement until she was ready to accepting the advanced literature he gifted her with open arms rather than insecurity and right up until she takes the high road when Clement reveals that he is embarrassed by her lack of intellect. (She deals with this heartbreak with a heartfelt, tear-stained rendition of “I Will Survive” that had me chair dancing and singing along.) But her final decision in dealing with her relationship with Clement comes out of left field and seems highly out of character for her. I can’t say more without giving away the whole ending, but trust me when I say that it feels like everything we have known Jennifer to be has been a lie and that she is, after all, just another sad rom-com heroine who lets a silly, unworthy man influence her life a bit too much.

Overall, though, this is a lovely film to watch. Jennifer and Clement’s romance is too adorable for words and I dare you to watch it without a goofy grin on your face. It’ll make you delighted that there can be such a thing as that perfect, moviedom romance, and that, even if it doesn’t work out the way you would like it to, the experience was more than worth it.

A+

Sarah is covering the Cinéfranco International Film Festival, which runs from April 10 to 19 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto. See more coverage here.

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