User Reviews (29)

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    The users who have reviewed this film before me have all disliked it. The critics have been kinder, and the user rating of 6.8 is higher than I would have expected. I fully understand the dislike many viewers would have for it, but I think it's an outstanding film, one of the very best I've seen.

    The film concerns four principal characters: Alain (Guillaume Canet), a publisher; Selena (Juliette Binoche), Alain's wife and a successful actress; Léonard (Vincent Macaigne), a moderately-successful author; and Valérie (Nora Hamzawi), Léonard's wife and an aide to a well-known politician. All are in their early 40s, attractive in different ways, and professionally successful.

    There are two major themes: books and publishing in the age of the internet, social media and e-books, and the sexual and emotional relationships of the principal characters.

    The fulcrum on which the film moves is the work of Léonard. He writes what he describes as "auto-fiction", or semi-autobiographical novels, and the principal characters in his novels are thinly-disguised versions of his friends, lovers and colleagues. Thus when his latest novel describes a recent affair, there is public speculation about who the woman really was.

    There are many long scenes of discussions about writing, the validity of autobiographical novels as fiction in their own right, trends in the types of books that sell well or don't sell well, the future of publishing and a whole range of related topics. The discussions often take place at dinner parties where the hosts and guests are all more or less connected with writing or publishing; they are all intelligent, well-educated and articulate; and their conversations have a very convincing air of reality, with the speakers -- who are, after all, actors reciting lines -- appearing to advance their own genuine opinions. None of the many different points of view are portrayed as being clearly right or wrong; the questions discussed are difficult and many different opinions are valid. One of the reasons I enjoyed this film so much is that the discussions were intensely interesting.

    The personal relationships at first are very secondary to the questions about writing and publishing; but as the film progresses they assume greater importance. The persons involved feel their emotions deeply, but at the same time they are very clear-sighted and realistic about what they are doing. There is a scene where Selena, the actress, tells a friend whom she works with that she is sure that her husband (Alain, the publisher) is having an affair, as he in fact is. The friend asks her why she doesn't confront him. She replies that she doesn't see any need to; she is sure that Alain loves her, and that the affair will run its course and end; that to confront him would provoke a crisis and probably change the basis of their relationship; that there is more to love and a marriage than sexual fidelity; and that after 20 years of marriage it's not surprising that Alain might find another woman sexually attractive. What she doesn't say is that she herself has been having an affair for six years with Léonard, the writer.

    There are a number of short but very powerful moments where the characters do directly face their emotions. I won't mention all of them in order to avoid spoilers, but one example is where Léonard's wife Valérie asks him directly if he is having an affair and he is unable to give a direct answer.

    There's no real action and there's a huge amount of talking. It's not for everyone. But it's a highly intelligent and sophisticated film and I rate it very highly.
  • This movie is typical of the snubbish attitude of parisian bobos in the so called "cultural" business. Point less arguments about eBooks, Kindle and Google(45 minutes) and a meager petit bourgeois vaudeville, boring and NOT well filmed, about some petty affairs between so called friends of this arrogant set of profiteurs. No doubt that this is one of the many description of the avilisation of the French society ambiance, and a good foreseeing signal previous to the recent gilet-jaunes riots!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Lots of affairs, repetitive discussions about the digitisation of the publishing industry all to absolutely no point. Nothing is elegantly resolved. A completely frustrating movie to watch.
  • Dull, talky, pedantic. Essentially a movie about navel-gazing in the publishing industry. Great cast, turgid script. I went expecting an interesting grownup film, and got a mediocre Ted Talk instead.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Veteran French Director Olivier Assayas (CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, SUMMER HOURS) latest revolves are a pair of couples. Leonard (Vincent Macaigne) and his wife Valerie (Nora Hamzawi), and Alain (Guillaume Canet) and Selena (Juliette Binoche). Each have professions that concern mass communication: Leonard is a semi-popular novelist. Alain is his quite accomplished publisher. Selena is an actress with a hit TV show, while Valerie works public relations for a politician. We also witness how their professional bonds evolve into personal ones.

    What unites Assayas' screenplay is his observations of how modern forms of communication affects how each does their jobs. E-Books, social media, blogs, and, yes, binge-watching TV shows. Where the personal meets the professional is that Leonard's novels are here termed 'Auto-fiction' - novels based on his own life. This, naturally, causes some level of friction in that everyone in his life is, in some way, represented in his works (the movie begins with Alain informing Leonard that his latest tome is being vetted by his legal department). By no means is NON-FICTION solely confined to dissertations about the transmission of words. There is also plenty of between the sheets activity (and, I'm not talking about the pages of a book).

    Assayas is an eclectic filmmaker who's made traditional dramas like SOMETHING IN THE AIR to a kicky cult comedy (IRMA VEP) to a modern ghost story (PERSONAL SHOPPER) to a bizarre film about violent Japanese Hentai (DEMONLOVER). His restlessness shows here in the story sometimes gets lost in its episodic nature, and it never really solves the conundrum of making an entertaining Motion picture about something static like words. Even the title for the movie has gone through the cycle. Assayas' preferred title was "E-Book", but, was persuaded by his French distributor to change it to "Doubles vies" (Double Lives); Re-titled yet again to the current U.S. moniker. Assayas has tipped his cap to the work of French master Eric Rohmer, but, to be blunt, his writing, while decent, isn't up to the lofty level.

    What does make NON-FICTION an agreeable ride is the appealing cast and its very "French" attitude to romance. Whereas extra-marital dalliances would have weighed down most American pictures, here, such matters are shrugged off with all the heavy burden of a new haircut. Macaigne is particularly fine as the selfish scribe that even he must acknowledge is the truth. Binoche breezes along happily as a secondary character. There are a few peripheral characters, but, the only one of major import is Laure (Christa Theret) as a young woman who is trying to bring the publishing house into the modern media landscape. There's also a fun bit that breaks the fourth wall here. NON-FICTION isn't a major work, but, it's a sweet little roundlet.
  • As a fan of European films with an intellectual spark and some witty humor, I was expecting to enjoy this. Despite a slow start, I kept hoping for an eventual improvement, but the film just dragged on and on, repeating the same idea in many different settings, to the point of exhaustion, for 108 tedious minutes.

    While there were a couple of funny moments, they were too few and far apart. As far as the story went, there was not much beyond the initial concept. As a character-driven film, I found most characters to be flat and unrelatable, particularly the protagonist and his romantic interests. The minor development at the end felt forced and out of place.

    Since I saw this at the Toronto Film Festival, a Q&A followed at the end. Unlike other public screenings that I've attended so far, most questions this time came from people in the film industry, who themselves mentioned that they could probably better relate to the book publishing industry, thus this film, than most. Since I'm not of the industry nor a French speaker, I could only hope that some of its charm lost in translation.
  • This film feels like a panel discussion on the digitalization turned into a movie, with the addition of humourless, self-centored, arrogant and privilieged protagonists. I really like intellectual films with a lot of conversations, but in this film all I found was pseudo-intellectualism and people having monologues in group settings, not dialogues.
  • mphebert25 May 2019
    I wanted to love this. The first scene was alive with ideas and possibility. There is even the promising question of who owns a story: the teller or the subject? But that wasn't developed. Instead you get a series of very unlikely affairs. I mean c' mon...Juliette Binoche with that guy?
  • firoozh6 June 2019
    Very disappointing film from a good director. First of all after twenty minutes you notice that all the discussions about the effects of internet on publishing industry is passé, characters conversations about ebooks versus paper books are repetitious and boring. All main characters are one dimensional and we don't learn anything about them expect that they all have affairs and husbands infidelities are surprisingly acceptable by their wives. There is no drama or plot to follow except affairs and talks about ebooks !!
  • Interesting and entertaining. The English title is "Non-Fiction", but the original French title "Doubles Vies" (Double Lives) is more descriptive. The theme centers around writing and publication in the internet age, with provocative snippets of bracing conversation, some hilarious deadpan humor, and sexual infidelity as a metaphor for how writing cheats reality, all perfectly framed by the French language and the Gallic temperament. (Needs to be seen in the original French, with subtitles if necessary.) You could describe it as a fast-talking intellectual comedy, but it's one of those movies that can be as deep as you want to make it. I plan to rent it so I can stop/replay some of the dialogue. The director, Olivier Assayas, is a master of layered meanings.
  • Doubles vies (2018) (literally Double Lives) is a French film that was shown in the U.S. with the title Non-Fiction. The movie was written and directed by Olivier Assayas.

    Guillaume Canet as publisher Alain Danielson, who is married to the TV actress Slena (Juliette Binoche). They are friends with another couple, author Léonard Spiegel (Vincent Macaigne) and political consultant Valerie, portrayed Nora Hamzawi. Into the mix comes Laure d'Angerville played by Christa Théret. She works for Alain as "Head of Digital Transition."

    Because this is a French film, everyone sleeps with everyone else, and everyone gathers in groups of four, six, or eight to talk, talk, and talk. (They also gather in cafes to talk.)

    Nothing is going quite right for any of them, and they are all dissatisfied with their lives. This is despite the fact that they are beautiful, successful, relatively wealthy people. (Remember this is a French film.)

    On the positive side is that the acting is excellent, the plot moves forward steadily, if slowly, and the movie embodies everything I know about French intellectuals. OK--it's true that all I know about French intellectuals is what I've seen in movies about French intellectuals. Even so, by that criterion it looks right.

    If you like dialog films, with great French actors, this film is for you. If you like movies with more action and less talk, then Non-Fiction isn't for you.

    We saw on the large screen at Rochester's great Little Theatre. It will work well enough on the small screen.

    I think it's worth seeing, but I'm somewhat prejudiced, because I have wanted to see La Binoche act ever since "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" in 1988.
  • Greetings again from the darkness. Kids today (shake your head while saying it). No one reads anymore, and when they do, it's only e-books and blogs. Such is the ongoing discussion throughout this latest from writer-director Olivier Assayas (PERSONAL SHOPPER 2016, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA 2015). Lest you think the debate between traditional hardback books and digital literature takes up the full run time, you should know that such serious discussion is wrapped in a more traditional French sex farce ... and a quite entertaining one at that.

    Guillaume Canet (the excellent TELL NO ONE, 2006) stars as publisher Alain Danielson. He has a lunch meeting with his client and friend, author Leonard Spiegel (a very funny Vincent Macaigne) where he declines to publish Leonard's latest manuscript. Alain claims it's too easy to identify the real people mentioned in the story, despite the name changes. Leonard says it's "auto-fiction", meaning his writing takes inspiration from his life. One of the ongoing gags (no pun intended) revolves around an inappropriate act in the theatre during a screening of Michael Haneke's WHITE RIBBON - or was it during STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS? Such is Leonard's sly way of disguising his characters and life.

    Juliette Binoche co-stars as Alain's wife Selena, and Ms. Binoche takes full advantage of one of the few films where she can flash her comedic chops. Nora Hamzawi plays Valerie, Leonard's wife, and she is delightful as the spouse who refuses to build up Leonard's ego or provide any boost whatsoever to his confidence. Instead she spends a great deal of time reminding him of what his critics are saying. The final piece to this puzzle is Christa Theret, who plays the Head of Digital Transformation for Alain's publishing house, and is the constant instigator in the push towards digital.

    Quintessentially French may be the best description for the film and these characters. At the dinner party, the conversation is stimulating and intellectual, while in their personal lives, it seems everyone is sleeping with someone else. Most every character worries about infidelities, while it's a part of their own life. Even Twitter is treated as "very French" in that it consists of '4 very witty lines'. Clever lines are spoken frequently, especially from Leonard who says he writes "feel-bad books" rather than the usual "feel good" ones. And Alain refers to Leonard's last book as "a worst seller".

    Fewer readers, books vs digital, and the popularity of blogs all play into the generational debate of change/progress vs traditional ways. Whether books and libraries are a relic of the past is certainly a viable topic, but the comedy-infused relationships keep the film from ever feeling too heavy. Ms. Binoche has a recurring bit where her TV role is misidentified as a cop, and she (in character) plays along with what may be the first ever Juliette Binoche on screen joke.

    Filmmaker Assayas previously tackled art appreciation, or the lack thereof in modern times, with his 2008 film SUMMER HOURS. This time he turns his attention to literature and we can't help but notice some similarities to the works of Woody Allen and Eric Rohmer with the vibrant dialogue and awkward relationships. The French title translates to "Double Lives" which is not only a better title, but also a more descriptive one. However, by the time the 'Martian Martian' song plays over the final credits, you will likely feel entertained ... in a mostly French manner.
  • "Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators." Stephen Fry

    If you like things French such as conversation, books, love, infidelity, bourgeoise comforts, Eric Rohmer, and Juliette Binoche, then go right to Olivier Assayas' Non-Fiction. Here's a fiction film about incessant arguing over books vs. e-books, roman a clef, and the politics of publishing in a world where the Internet is shaping even the way talented authors structure their dramas.

    Books and the Internet, along with the shape of e-books, informs almost every heated discussion of the fetching comedy with a bit of darkness to make it oh-so French interesting. Publisher Alain (Guillaume Canet) refuses to publish long-time writer and client Leonard's (Vincent Macaigne) newest novel possibly because Leonard has a habit of disguising well know people in his characters, this time may be Selena, wife of Alain, and lover of Leonard. After six years of this tomfoolery, do you think Alain might know?

    While Assayas has a good old time with this old-time French drawing room stuff, all get togethers evolve into arguments about the viability of hard-bound books versus digital newcomers. No conclusion is made, except for the viewer who delights in the robust shenanigans that disguise the obsession writers and publishers now have over the mortality of books, hard or soft.

    Regardless, the middle-aged literati are disguising their own fear of extinction in the face of Tweeted emotions in so many words and young folk who may not read anymore anyway. Even promotion of a book must attend to the right navigation on social media.

    It's all heady words for this word lover who is delighted by such clever screwball setups and the idea, like any debate about the existence of God, that because we talk about books, they will endure. This comedy is not so much raucous as it is profound with a whole bunch of French sensibility and sex. I vote for that to endure right along with books.

    "Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food." Douglas Adams
  • "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.
  • Irena_Spa27 February 2019
    I was expecting that I will see a good comedy, because of its cast, and it came up that watching was an agony. I wanted to lieve the screening in a middle, but decided to stay and finally something started to happen. Before that it was blablablablabla and bla, when you lose the interest to listen and watch it. The only good character in that story is Valérie(Nora Hamzawi) and interesting is that by her the movie is ending.
  • At the very first second of the film the characters start talking. They stop only once, some 80 min later, while driving a scooter for 30 sec. And I guess that was only due to technical reasons. We are forced to watch some nervous Parisian snobs drinking wine, smoke and talk, talk, talk, talk. What they talk about has hardly any relevance to anyone outside of close circle of Parisian bobos with their idiosyncrasies which are neither smart nor amusing. Add bad camera work and loads of continuity errors to the full experience. Incredible waste of talented cast and money.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There were some good moments of drama in this film, especially between the author and the politician's aide.

    However, this film was fatally blighted by lengthy and overly detailed discussions in which actors were employed to "bring to life" complex deliberations that ought to have been confined to written articles. The subject matter of these discussions, such as the consequences of the co-existence of e-readers and real books, is interesting. But, forcing such a volume of information into the mouths of characters in a film, for it to be, often soullessly, regurgitated, ultimately made this work unwieldy and, for me, unenjoyable.

    The actors did their best to bring the academic articles to life, but it was an impossible task.

    The trailer I saw - that encouraged me to watch this movie - suggested that it would be a frothy, perky comedy. However, this is not a snappy wise-cracking outing that makes you chuckle, but rather it is an exercise in leaden and unnatural verbosity that weighs down the actors and wore out this viewer.
  • The characters in this movie discuss the potential demise of the traditional publishing business in the face of digital media and the shifting patterns of media consumption. The characters are an actress, a writer, an editor/publisher, and the owner of the publisher. Multiple affairs among the married or otherwise involved characters create a tangle of personal relationships which never seem to reach a crisis point. The character's attitudes toward the affairs are very French: accepting, sophisticated, not wanting to know too much about their partner's outside sexual activities. The ending is a nice one. The movie never delves too deeply into any one character, as there are multiple story lines, and multiple relationships to balance. In the current movie marketplace, which is dominated by super hero films, any movie about real-life issues, and real human relationships is a welcome offering, hence I give this a generous 8 out of a possible 10.
  • It is a good story about the nature of literature and publishing in the digital age. So, most Americans simply won't get it because most Americans don't see literature as having any importance to their lives; it's merely entertainment (most Americans think Harry Potter is literature). The French, however, still take literature seriously. E.g., Michel Houellebecq's "Submission" caused a firestorm. This film is only for people who think literature is important. The low ratings seen here are an indictment of American culture.
  • This film starts off quite strongly; an interesting dialogue between the characters on the future consumption of the written word - long/short form; digital, books, blogs etc... Sadly, it soon descends into a rather monotonous exercise in wife swapping and never really goes anywhere. For me, the end didn't come a moment too soon...
  • ayoreinf29 July 2019
    As others said it here, this is a very French film. It's also very verbal and very witty, though most of the text is there only as a vehicle for the story itself about the relationships between four friends two of them being a part of the French literary circle, and their wives. The only reason this thing works at all, is the fact that all of the cast oozes charm. One keeps on watching them talking and talking, because they're so very charming doing it, their wit flows naturally. But the truth is that we didn't really get to see here great original story. All we've got here is an endless verbal deluge, delivered with a certain French smile of self awareness, and as I already said, with loads of charm. If that's enough for you, you'll love this film. I found it a bit longish, I thought the director didn't really know how to end it, so he tried a few endings and left them all in, a mistake not suitable for an experienced director. But that's about it.
  • 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.
  • ideafixy14 July 2020
    Two couples are portrayed, having the literary context as background. In this masterpiece, the relationships' dynamics are shown through characters' actions using apparently useless dialogues as support structures. The movie's main theme - communication - is shown as the root cause for infidelity, which in the end may or may not be the difference between rebuilding the trust, or not. The actors did an outstanding work interpreting the characters in a movie full on subtleties where the dynamics at play are the key to the couples' downfall and recovery.
  • An easy going movie, with nothing special, nothing to be attracted, just for a good time in a summer cinema
  • Hot off divisive ghost story Personal Shopper, writer/director Olivier Assayas has made an erotic comedy about ebooks. Orbiting the literary world, it follows the lives of two très French couples - Guillaume Canet's publisher, Juliette Binoche's actor, Vincent Macaigne's author and Nora Hamzawi's political activist - who spend their lives either sleeping with one another or debating the virtues and perils of the digital future. Deftly bouncing between considered intellectual sparring, lewd humour and free-spirited sex comedy, it's far from the paper-dry take on contemporary literature you might expect, but boy is it talky.
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