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Love at First Fight 

Wednesday, Jun 10 2015
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Thomas Cailley's Love at First Fight is a French romantic comedy that's a good thing for a change, instead feeling more like a charming YA novel. French romantic comedies in particular have tended to ramp up the ooh-la-la factor, with the object of the man's gaze often conforming to the most banal male fantasies; see this month's Gemma Bovery for a timely example. (Actually, you should skip Bovery and see this movie instead.) A young, somewhat aimless young carpenter named Arnaud (Kévin Azaïs) has a meet-cute with a woman named Madeleine (Adèle Haenel) when she handily defeats him at a wrestling match at an army recruitment truck by the beach. (Hey, it's France.) Arnaud becomes more intrigued with the strong, survivalism-obsessed Madeleine while working at her family home, eventually following her into a two-week boot camp that she hopes will prepare her for the apocalypse she's sure is around the corner. Cailley's camera resists objectifying Haenel, and though Madeleine remains something of a cipher, it's not because the male protagonist and/or the camera are only interested in her as a shapely piece of meat, but because she has an interior life that Arnaud's not privy to. Love at First Fight even earns its brief, fleeting nudity, and that's saying a lot for a French film.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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