“We’re stuck together by an architectural anomaly”
In a promotional interview with Purepeople, the two stars of Clovis Cornillas’ 2015 French romantic comedy Blind Date (French: Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément) stated, that ongoing quarrels with neighbours are a normal occurrence in France. That is perhaps why the film’s take on this issue is so skillfully manipulated, making it appear almost satirical – but never dull.
Wishing to taste independece, young pianist Machine (Mélanie Bernier) moves into a small apartment, only to discover that the wall separating her from her neighbour, Machin (Clovis Cornillac), is thinner than rice paper. Both wishing to make the other disappear, they engage in an exhaustive battle of vexing noise-making. However, as time goes on, their personalities start to seep through the wall, painting an alluring portrait of their combined eccentricities. Intrigued, they come up with an interesting dating arrangement – one that will test their preconceptions of themselves.
The film shows a disturbingly timely reality for many of us today. It includes the challenges of working from home, living in isolation and the timeless struggle of trying to stay authentic and vulnerable while dating. All this is coated in an impenetrable layer of hilarity that owes its success to the saturation of the characters’ peculiarities. These are sharpened by a witty, fast-paced dialogue and carefree use of music by Guillaume Roussel. That’s not to say that the film is not without its confusing oddities. Among the most prominent ones is the use of pigeons as a metaphor for the characters’ shapeshifting relationship, with one scene depicting the two animals mating.
This idiosyncracy cements the film somewhere between comedy, and comedic relief. The lightness of its form allows Blind Date to embody the awkwardness of trying to socialise to an awe-inspiring degree, showing untimely belching and foot-in-mouth comments that crystalise beautifully on the tongue, but end up deformed when they slide off it. Similarly, a few of the mimed scenes in the film come out looking like a prelude to an innocent-faced horror; a result achieved by brilliant acting and illuminating cinematography by Thierry Pouget. This wouldn’t be possible without the heightened scenes being pulled to the verge of reality – left to dangle there to soak in the freeing absurdity of the moment.
However, the film’s true appeal lies in its audacious leap from superficial humour to the underbelly of the story’s thrumming tension. That inner struggle reveals itself in the line “you’re just a voice, nothing but a voice”. A thick line is drawn between physical and emotional separation. Gradually, as the film’s second half gains a resounding level of maturity, the music starts to tug on the audience’s heartstrings, bringing to mind the harrowing scenes of Pete Docter’s Up (2009). And with a cathartic ending, this comedy is bound to linger in our minds for a while.