Does passion provide an adequate foundation for how to live a life? In Anaïs in Love, from director Charline Bourgeois-Tacquet, we watch a young woman who focuses her life around shifting passions that blow through her life. Does it lead to happiness? Will it ever last?
Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier) is a thirty something student who is constantly behind on her thesis. Actually that lateness is one of the defining characteristics of her life. She is very frenetic, flighty, and egocentric. She is willing to dump a boyfriend when she feels a loss of passion. She jumps into relationships easily, but never seems to be willing to sustain them. Her fear of elevators leads to her meeting Daniel, who is much older and married. As their affair runs its course, she becomes entranced by a photo of Daniels’ wife Emilie. She begins what can only be described as a stalking relationship, following Emilie to a writer’s conference, while blowing off a conference she is supposed to be overseeing for her thesis supervisor. Can the wife of her lover be the true love of her life?
Anaïs has a lot in common with the character Julie in last year’s Oscar nominated The Worst Person in the World. Both young women are likable even as we watch them tear through relationships without much concern for the pain they may cause others.
The subject of passion comes up in various ways through the film. Anaïs’s thesis is about the portrayal of passion in 17th century literature. When her mother has a recurrence of cancer, Anaïs wonders if this bad news is because her parents have lost their passion. Even in her relationships, we see them as passion driven, rather than personal. She is willing to have sex with someone, but doesn’t want to sleep with anyone. She’s not even going to commit to a night together.
Watching Anaïs stalk and seek to win over Emilie, is a humorous misadventure, but it tends to underscore Anaïs’s irresponsibility, to the point that we can’t see how she is ever going to find stability in her life. Perhaps she can win Emilie’s love, but viewers are going to have a hard time seeing that this will be any different than all the other relationships that she has entered and left. While Anaïs is very likable, and we want her to find happiness, we keep waiting for her inner child to start growing up. It is only then that she will have hope of something more than the desire of the moment.
Anaïs in Love is in select theaters and coming soon to VOD.
Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.