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Daniel Fedoseev
Daniel Fedoseev

Love At First Fight

Madeleine and Arnaud (Kevin Asaïs) "meet cute" during a self-defense class held on the beach of their little seaside town. At first Arnaud refuses to fight her ("I don't hit girls") but eventually they start wrestling and she treats it as though she is in training for a "Rambo" movie. He's mortified by the experience, but, of course, as the title says, he falls in love with her immediately. Who was that unsmiling ferocious blonde in a racing swimsuit and cargo pants who had me in a glorious choke-hold in front of all my friends? Arnaud works in the family business (carpentry), biding time until he knows what he wants to do with his life. That's the case with all of the young adults in "Love at First Fight." They've dropped out of college. They have nothing to do. One of Arnaud's friends is moving to Saskatoon (Arnaud says, confused, "I thought you were moving to Canada."). "France is rotting," says one of the guys. "There's nothing left here."

Love at First Fight

How can love blossom with such a creature? Does Arnaud know what he's getting into? He's such a sweet and shy person and she's such a powerhouse. Both actors give incredibly charming and funny performances, never betraying their characters by condescending to them, or over-playing the "quirks." The way Arnaud looks at Madeleine helps us understand how to perceive her, and Adele Haenel manages to suggest that Madeleine is, in actuality, a funny and sweet person herself, but has chosen to button all that up in the name of being realistic. She has "seen the light," and if nobody else has, well, that's too bad, at least she's prepared for the apocalypse.

Cailley's direction is confident and un-fussy (it is his first feature) with sparks of intense beauty (deep blue and black night scenes, waves of smoke filling the sky from a nearby forest fire) reflecting the mood of any given scene. He has an excellent eye for behavior, and an excellent ear for dialogue. What matters in a movie like this is the relationship. Cailley understands that, and keeps his approach simple and transparent. 041b061a72


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