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A look at love through her eyes - and his

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"He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" is the kind of movie a reviewer can't review without giving away crucial secrets. I'll do my best to be cagey, but stop reading now if you want to get the full benefits of this French thriller's surprises.

The main character is Angélique, an energetic art student who's dreaming of a bright future with Loïc, the handsome doctor who's stolen her heart. They'll become soul mates as soon as he's separated from his wife, who's obviously all wrong for him.

So far, so good. But the movie takes an unexpected turn about halfway through - switching to Loïc's point of view, and revealing that he sees things a lot differently. In fact, he's barely aware of Angélique's existence. And the more she enters his life, the more skewed her perspective starts to seem.

The movie's original title is "À la folie ... pas du tout," from the French equivalent of the familiar "he loves me...." flower-petal game. That's a better title than the English version, because "madly ... not at all" sums up a psychological enigma at the heart of the story.

The picture was directed by Laetitia Colombani, a young French actress who planned to play the protagonist until she decided to focus completely on the business side of the camera. She then signed Audrey Tautou for the leading role - a canny move, since Tautou's fame as the sprightly imp of "Amélie" lends a deeply ironic underpinning to the anti-Amélie she portrays here.

"He Loves Me" recalls other movies, from melodramas like "Letter From an Unknown Woman" to multiple-perspective stories like "Sliding Doors" and the upcoming "Lawless Heart." But it's different from all of them. Movie-style romance may never look quite the same. Neither will flower petals.

• Not rated; contains brief sex and violence.


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