Sur mes lèvres | Read My Lips
DIRECTOR: Jacques Audiard | WRITERS: Jacques Audiard, Tonino Benacquista | CAST: Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Devos, Olivier Gourmet, Olivier Perrier | France
I have a tendency to gush and perhaps overpraise movies that I think are terrific so let me keep this short. Sur mes lèvres is a terrific crime-thriller-noir-caper-offbeat-romance-character-study. Really terrific. It’s not a Giant Great FILM and it’s got a couple of problems — the lip-reading abilities of the main character frankly strain credulity and a secondary plot appears to have been decimated during editing and its shredded remains are more confusing than anything — but it doesn’t really matter much because the writing is really good, the acting is terrific and Audiard keeps it taut, tight, focused. Vincent Cassel surprised me with the subtlety of his acting — not at all what I expected from him and certainly not in this part as an ex-con who’s not even trying to reform his bad ways — but Emmanuelle Devos is just extraordinary. Her character, Carla, is an angry and hostile passive-aggressive almost-deaf woman who — with the help of powerful hearing aids and her phenomenal lip-reading skills — successfully passes for hearing at work but she resents the fact that her sheer determination and hard work in pretending she’s not hearing impaired have gone unrecognized and unrewarded. Yes, it’s paradoxical but it absolutely rings true. And I can’t neglect the sound editing: this is one film where the sound plays a crucial part in establishing character and mood. As I said: a terrific movie and I’ll shut up now.