I love a comedy and I love smart movies and intelligent conversation and I love books and here they all are, rolled up together in Olivier Assayas' marvellous new film "Non-Fiction". At his best no-one can touch Assayas for smart talk and this time he's got a great subject, the dumbing down of culture, particularly the written word as books disappear to be subsumed into the World Wide Web, the Cloud, whatever, as people write and read blogs but don't pick up a printed book.
I don't doubt for a minute that anyone reading this review will know what I'm talking about. Film criticism on an electronic device is a symptom of what Assayas is talking about here. Indeed, Juliette Binoche's character is an actress in a television cop show. She's married to Alain, (a superb Guillaume Canet), a publisher who wants to move over to e-books. Vincent Macaigne is an author whose new manuscript Alain has decided not to publish and who uses his own life and the people he knows as material for his work. He's also having an affair with Alain's wife, (Binoche), leading to a great running joke at the expense of Haneke's "The White Ribbon".
It's all good fun, aimed at people who read books, in whatever form, discuss politics and watch Bergman and Haneke and even "Star Wars" movies. Assayas knows his audience and isn't afraid to poke fun at them. You might call this a very French film; it's full of intellectuals having sex and cheating on their partners, not that I'm suggesting these are specifically French concerns. Of course, you don't need to be French or even an intellectual to enjoy this. It's very funny and brilliantly acted by a large cast. Binoche is as good as she's ever been and both Canet and Macaigne are simply wonderful. You do need a tolerance for smart talk, however, as in this film conversation is what passes for action. A movie for our times and not to be missed.
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