This is a film that wants to address a lot of Big Issues. Is there a role for novels in a digital age? Are people reading more now or less? Do blogs carry the same intellectual weight as old school journalism? Are tweets the new haiku? Do we still need libraries?
These are all interesting – and important – questions, but the discussions are being held in entirely the wrong medium. What may have provided a lively newspaper editorial, or a Twitter spat, is sanitised and drained of nearly all emotion.
Most of the scenes in the film are in cafes or book readings or in the sort of civilised parties where everyone waits for the last person to stop talking before making their point. No-one gets agitated or emotional, even when they are breaking up or learning of their partner’s affair.
There is plenty to like about the film. The fading writer Leonard is snobby and cynical – just my sort of person. And Juliette Binoche is perfectly fine as an actress who is starring in a cop show, when she’d be much happier playing Phaedre to half-full houses (just as long as she gets to keep her plush house and holiday cottage on the beach).
But it’s all too intellectual and without feeling to fully appeal. My Belgian friend Jean-Marc once said he didn’t really like French films. I’m pretty sure he’d hate this one.