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Man muss mich nicht lieben (Not Here to Be Loved, Je ne suis pas là pour être aimé)
France 2005

Opening 20 Jul 2006

Directed by: Stéphane Brizé
Writing credits: Stéphane Brizé, Juliette Sales
Principal actors: Patrick Chesnais, Anne Consigny, Georges Wilson

Jean-Claude (Patrick Chesnais) has the hapless job of throwing debtors out of their homes. This, plus the fact that he is 52 and divorced, makes him a sorry figure with no relief in sight. One day he looks into the window across from his office and sees beautiful people dancing the tango. What does that remind you of? Right: Shall we Dance, or the original Japanese version, Shall we Dansu. As in these films, Jean-Claude makes the leap and begins lessons where he meets Francoise and they shyly begin to date. This is where the similarity ends. Francoise (Anne Clonsigny) is engaged to Thierry, a less than attentive, wannabe author, who finds excuses not to attend tango class although the purpose of the lessons is to make a good figure at the post-wedding party. By opening up to each other, Jean-Claude and Francoise take a hard look at reality. He sees that his grown son is miserable in the business and that his elderly father is quite capable of terrorizing him from his senior-citizen bed. She sees that her mother and sister have undue influence on her life and she is too eager to please to take a stand. With this new awareness, they have the opportunity to take charge of their lives. The ending left hope for a tender romance. (My male colleague disagreed and said, “Be realistic – it will never work.”) I’m hopeless at defining French films, but this one by director Stéphane Brizé is very human and one I can identify with and even comprehend. My colleague compared Chesnais to Bill Murry in Lost in Translation, but the Frenchman is much, much better than Murray. (Becky Tan)

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