Not My Type – SIFF 40 Review

Emilie Dequenne and Loic Corbery play an endearing and mismatched couple in this across the tracks French love story.

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Not My Type tells the story of Clement (Loic Corbery), a Parisian philosophy teacher who gets re-assigned to the northern French town of Arras.  This new assignment acts as an insult to the young professor who feels that with the recent success of a novel and burgeoning popularity in his field, teaching in what he calls a “backwater” town is far beneath him.

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Once he becomes established in his temporary digs, a trip to the Salon holds more in store for him than just a quick trim.  There he meets a young hairdresser named Jennifer (Emilie Dequenne), a bubbly sweet single mom with an affinity for singing karaoke with her girls and celebrity gossip mags. As Clement and Jennifer slowly establish a relationship, the two begin to introduce each other to their worlds.  Clement has a passion for Dostoevsky, he has a taste for the finer things in life, and keeps his heart guarded.  Jennifer loves the simpler things in life like Jennifer Aniston, playing video games, and her karaoke singing.  She loves being a hairstylist and seems to find true joy in making people happy by changing their appearance.

Once the two make their romantic connection, you begin to see chinks in the armor of their relationship gradually.  Clement refuses to take Jennifer with him back to Paris and treats her as more of a thing to do than a love interest.  Whether or not these are his true feelings becomes a difficult thing for Jennifer to understand.  As such, their relationship suffers as Jennifer drifts further away from someone she has grown to love.

Not My Type is unique in that, there is no bad guy in this love story.  Clement doesn’t cheat or abuse and Jennifer isn’t crazy or spiteful, the two just have a difficult time of making it work when they each exist in two totally different worlds.  Clement is completely honest with Jennifer regarding their relationship, but Jennifer is not used to such truthfulness and stability in a man.  In a very emotional scene she complains to Clement that he doesn’t even get jealous of her or ask her where she has been when he returns from his weekend in Paris.  Clement keeps his distance either out of fear of commitment or for societal reasons.

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With it’s complex love story comes also three pretty great karaoke performances by Emilie Dequenne.  This is another way that filmmaker Lucas Belvaux presents Jennifer as a passionate woman who wants to give it all in her simple life.  The scenes in the Arras karaoke disco provide a striking contrast to Clement’s pretentious affairs back in Paris.  The disco is alive with color and sound while Clement’s parties are bland and lacking any emotional human elements.

I truly enjoyed this story and it made me really think about love and it’s ability to overcome all. In this story love was there and enough, but the societal element created the massive conflict that made Not My Type both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

“Not My Type” plays June 1st at 9:30pm at the Egyptian and again on June 6th at 10:30am at Pacific Place as part of SIFF 2014.

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