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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Jean-Paul Dumas-Grillet/Corbis, 2004 Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.)

photo caption:
MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL: Lolita (Marilou Berry, center) glumly watches her father's girl friend Karine (Virginie Desarnauts) preen herself in the mirror, as they vie for Lolita's father's attention and affection. end caption.

Look at Me (Comme une image): A Coming-of-Age Drama Examines Self-Esteem Issues

Review by Kam Williams

Lolita (Marilou Berry) has some serious self-esteem issues. The 20 year-old was abandoned at an early age by her mother and raised by her father Etienne Cassard (Jeanne-Pierre Bacri), a world-renowned best-selling author. She is frustrated because he ignores her in favor of his girlfriend, Karine (Virginie Desarnauts), a stunning beauty young enough to be his daughter.

Lolita attempts to compete for her father's attention by training to be a classical singer; but unfortunately, she is tone deaf. However, her voice teacher Sylvia (Agnes Jaoui), works with her in order to get close to Lolita's father because Sylvia's husband, Pierre (Laurent Grevill), is a struggling writer.

In addition, Lolita is not as svelte as the models who appear in the fashion magazine for which she works. Even though she moves in circles reserved for the very well-connected, her weight has prevented her from finding a boyfriend. She fantasizes about men, pretending that she's in a relationship with a handsome fellow who barely notices her.

Look at Me won the Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival last year. The movie, written, directed by, and co-starring Agnes Jaoui, is presented from the perspective of an unpopular underachiever who finds herself surrounded by all the trappings of success and yet is unable to find a measure of fulfillment for herself.

Marilou Berry earns high marks for her handling of the lead role in which she conveys sophistication combined with vulnerability. She comes from a family filled with successful actors, her real-life mother is Cesar-winning actor/director Josiane Balasko (French Twist), and her father and uncle, Philippe and Richard Berry are well known actors.

Each of the characters Lolita encounters is an example of the worst of humanity: the shallow sycophant, the spoiled-rotten rich kid, the social-climbing opportunist, and the celebrated cultural icon. Lolita is in the inside of the high society bubble looking out, helplessly floating along in the only reality she has ever known.

The question becomes whether Lolita will break out of the bubble when she has her chance when Sebastien (Keine Bouhiza) arrives. Look at Me examines a variety of questions, such as superficiality versus substance, materialism versus self-worth, and taking advantage of others versus forming sincere relationships.

The film was shot primarily in Paris, with additional scenes at Menades, Vault-de-Lugny, and Saint-Aubin-des-Chaumes. The film is accompanied by a tasteful soundtrack of choral music.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG-13 for brief profanity and a sexual reference. In French with subtitles. Running time: 110 minutes. Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics.


end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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