Awash in cliches, flashbacks, and montages, Love Is In The Air (Amour et Turbulences) subscribes to the exhausted yet still popular notion that for everyone there is but one true love.
It must be fate, therefore, that seats Antoine (Nicolas Bedos) next to Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) on a trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris. Once upon a time, they loved each other, and then they broke up. Now, with the clock ticking, Antoine and Julie have six hours to relive their great romance, rekindle the sparks, and work through all the thorny issues that divided them, to the amusement of fellow passengers and one disapproving flight attendant.
Six people, including director Alexandre Castagnetti and leading man Bedos, are credited with adaptation and dialogue, with Vincent Angell credited for scenario, and their combined efforts yield a story that is built around five or six musical montages that anchor the plot and a series of witless exchanges that fill the time in between. Antoine is a womanizing player and Julie is an aspiring artist, and that is the extent of the characterization. Antoine is a lawyer of some kind, although his work serves only as a plot device, and Julie's past relationship with men is never filled in. Are we to assume that she is a chaste virgin, living at home with her mother, until she falls for the supposedly charming Antoine?
Julie's mother is a hard-drinking man-hater, while Antoine's best friend is a woe-is-me 'no women ever go for me' nurse, and so the opposing sides in the war of the sexes are drawn broadly and evenly. Julie is jealous and Antoine loves the ladies. Antoine is selfish and Julie loves him anyway. "You obviously specialize in cliches," Julie says to Antoine early in their relationship; she's joking, but it applies to the movie as a whole.
Granted, the movie is photographed to look bright and artificial, and the scene and montage transitions are handled gracefully, Bedos and Sagnier are beautiful people, and the production design is handsome. Love Is In The Air comes across as extremely superficial, and perhaps that's intentional.
As much as I'd like to rely on the same old excuses -- 'Don't take it too seriously; it's only a movie; what do you expect from a romantic comedy, anyway?' -- the movie itself cries out to be taken in all sincerity. And then it crashes down with two unaccountably stupid actions, and the minimal amount of goodwill that has been built up drains away quickly.
After all, If the romantic hero acts in a spectacularly selfish manner, and we are meant to forgive him in the name of true love, and then the romantic hero falls victim to a spectacularly unbelievable plot device, and we are meant to ignore it in the name of true love, then, for me, it calls into question why anyone would believe in this notion of "true love, but only for one other person in the world in your entire life," except as an infantile fantasy.
True love may, indeed, be "in the air," but it is not present in this movie.
The film opens in limited theatrical release in the U.S. on Friday, January 31, and will be available to watch via various Video On Demand platforms on February 11.