Antony Cordier’s “Four Lovers” (Happy Few, 2010) is good-looking tosh that says the French, they are different than you and I, they have lots of carefree sex and then want to talk about it. “Subject A,” Preston Sturges called it, and the ménage-a-quatre of “Four Lovers” goes from A to A and back again. Two couples (former Olympic gymnast Élodie Bouchez and feng shui self-help author Roschdy Zem; jewelry-maker Marina Foïs and tattooed web designer Nicolas Duvauchelle) go through their paces of mutual admiration, mate-swapping and pretentious voiceover. The film’s clearest statement? This is how we photograph how we want people to think we live today, but with a little full-frontal nudity. These are modern lifestyles? Yes, but with a little full-frontal nudity. “Can you love two people at the same time? Can you let it happen?” one character asks. Je suis d’accord! Oui, oui! Everyone’s attractive in an off-the-street-today fashion, but Bouchez’s lovely, gallingly Gallic large teeth could still have been given a larger role. Two other things keep the pace percolating: the gentle score makes for an assured pulse and there’s a nice quantity of jabbing jokes. The naturalistic camerawork offers offhand intimacy, even if some of the handheld camerawork is eccentric, as if the camera operator is constantly reaching to scratch his or her balls. A glimpse of what appears to be Claire Denis’ “Nénette and Boni” is amiable yet a reminder of how genteel “Four Lovers” is for the most part (as would comparison to Tom Tykwer’s stylized man-woman-man ménage, “3”). With Jean-François Stévenin, Blanche Gardin. 103m. (Ray Pride)
“Four Lovers” opens Friday at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.