Romantics Anonymous

August 05, 2012

My parents watch A LOT of Netflix and every time that they enjoy whatever they watched, they recommend it to me. I don't usually take them up on their suggestions since my own to-watch list is so overwhelmingly long, but when my dad mentioned this quirky French film, and I realized it was already in my own Netflix queue, I bumped it up to the top.

It's the story of two "emotional" people. In other words, very very very shy. I don't think I've ever found a movie where the main characters are this introverted, and it was absolutely delightful! I'm quite "emotional" myself, and it was so refreshing to see people onscreen exhibiting the same embarrassing traits that I show when I have to engage in any kind of human interaction.

The girl, Angelique, attends AA-style meetings for people who have uncontrollable shyness. The boy, Jean-Rene, is seeing a therapist to help get over his anxieties. When he hires her to work at his floundering chocolate shop, it makes for one of the cutest boy-meets-girl stories I've ever seen. We're all familiar with movies where the heroine is incredibly timid, but overcomes her shyness with the help of an overly-confident, handsome, dashing man. But what if the boy is just as paralyzed with fear as she is?! It's a brilliant concept, and it's well written and well acted to boot.

A lot of people say they're shy, but they don't suffer from paralyzing shyness the way me and the characters in the film do. Like Angelique, I think I'm relatively talented at what I do (well, in the movie she's a lot more talented than me, but let's just ignore that for a second) but if I have to explain my work to somebody else --be it a judge in an art competition, or during a job interview, etc.-- my mind goes completely blank from fear. Every time I've ever been asked out, I've sabotaged it somehow. Like Jean-Rene, I've never been in a relationship because of my fear of both kinds of intimacy -- physical and emotional. I'm pretty sure if I ever found myself on a date, I'd need to make like Jean-Rene in the film and bring along a suitcase of extra shirts to change into as I sweat my way through each one.

I usually grumble when people complain that they couldn't relate to characters in a film, since that isn't a necessity for me when I watch a movie. I enjoy films where everyone is a louse with no redeemable characteristics. I like movies with unhappy endings or movies where the only good person ends up dead by the time the credits roll. But. I will admit, it is incredibly nice to be able to relate to a film this much. I obviously felt emotional; my overactive empathy gland made me feel just as the characters did in each scene. (I'm a little surprised I didn't need to change shirts just watching it!) I knew exactly what they were going through, and I could feel their pain, heartbreak and elation.

And because this is, after all, a movie with a happy ending... I can feel hope.