Writer-director-actor Clovis Corniliac

The Westender’s newest contributor, Minou Yuille, pays a visit to the Alliance-Francaise French Film Festival. Here’s what she saw.

The Alliance-Francaise French Film Festival is here again, for its twenty-seventh year running, and with it a whole new host of the best French cinema had to offer in 2015.

As a part of this, I recently attended an advance screening of writer-director-actor Clovis Corniliac’s Blind Date, a romantic comedy. I am possibly biased, given that I rarely see a French film I hate, but I enjoyed this charming, light comedy a lot.

The plot concerns two neighbours with very thin walls, who only know each other as Whosit and Whatsit (their real names are never said). Whosit (Clovis Corniliac) is a near-agoraphobic  game inventor who likes to work in silence and scares anyway anyone who attempts to move into the apartment next to him. Whatsit (Mélanie Bernier) is a repressed but talented young pianist who refuses to be scared off. It’s not hard to predict what will happen but it hits each narrative beat with charm and humour, and plot devices that might be grating in a Hollywood romantic comedy coming off as silly and fun.

Clovis Corniliac is a first time director, and does quite admirably with the seamless-looking split-screen scenes between the two apartments, and use of visual comedy based on the fact the characters can’t see what each other is doing. His script isn’t deep, but it’s sweet and charts the positives and negatives of an unconventional relationship based only on sound. The only thing I didn’t like as much was the subplot involving Whatsit’s sister Charlotte (Lilou Fogli) that I feel could be resolved better.

The music cues are also brilliant – Whosit teases Whatsit about misspelling the word “respect” in Aretha Franklin’s famous song, which itself is later used extensively in their scenes together. Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Were Made For Walking is used as a comic joke coupled with the visuals of Whatsit searching the streets of male shoes, looking for a specific pair.

Blind Date isn’t a film that will blow your mind, but it is a funny, left-of-centre romance that can be enjoyed by any audience seeking something that is sweet without being sickly.

The 27th Alliance Francaise French Film Festival is on now at Palace Cinemas till the 3rd of April