"Nonfiction" (2018 release from France; 108 min.; original title "Doubles Vies" or "Double Lives") brings the story of a group of friends and assorted professional acquaintances. As the movie opens, we get to know Leonard, a writer, and Alan, his publisher. Leonard as finished a manuscript of a new book, but Alain is not really impressed with this latest effort, another work of "auto-fiction" in which Leonard talks about his affairs. Meanwhile Alain meets with Laure, who has been hired to shake things up at the publishing house to ready it for the digital age. Later on that day back home, Alain and his wife are hosting a group of friends for drinks and dinner, and the conversation flows freely from e-books to politicians... At this point we are less than 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest film from writer-director Olivier Assayas, who recently gave us the excellent "Personal Shopper" and "Clouds of Sils Maria". In this movie, Assayas brings us a look at the lives of a group of "elites" (writers, publishers, actors, etc.) who are dealing with every day issues just like you and me: professional challenges and personal issues. From the get-go, the movie charges at 100 mi/hr. and the talking is fast and furious. Close your eyes for 30 seconds and you've missed an entire chapter, so to speak. The movie benefits enormously from an outstanding all-star ensemble cast, led by Juliette Binoche as Selena, Guillaume Canet (Frane's equivalent of Ryan Gosling) as Alain, Vincent Macaigne as Leonard, Christa Theret as Laure, and Nora Hamzawi (France's equivalent of Lisa Kudrow) as Valerie (Leonard's wife). Beware: this is a talkie, meaning no action scenes to speak of (the one exception being when Juliette Binoche's character is filming a scene from her TV cop show). But what is lacking (?) in action is more than made up in the sharp, at times witty, at times deep, conversation between the characters. I absolutely loved it. I have no idea why the US release has been retitled "Nonfiction", whereas the original French title "Double Lives" is far more adequate.
"Nonfiction" premiered at last year's Venice film festival, and finally made it to my art-house theater here in Cincinnati this weekend. I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended so-so (8 people in total, including myself), which is a darn shame, although I can certainly appreciate that this movie isn't for everybody. Hopefully this can find a larger US audience as it is released on other platforms. If you are in the mood for a French talkie featuring a top notch ensemble cast, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater (if you still can), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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