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Read My Lips (2001)
"Sur mes lèvres" (original title)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 9,429 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 62 user | 79 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

She is almost deaf and she lip-reads. He is an ex-convict. She wants to help him. He thinks no one can help except himself.

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Title: Read My Lips (2001)

Read My Lips (2001) on IMDb 7.4/10

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7 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Olivier Perrier ...
...
Bernard Alane ...
Céline Samie ...
Pierre Diot ...
François Loriquet ...
Serge Onteniente ...
Mammouth (as Serge Boutleroff)
David Saracino ...
Christophe Vandevelde ...
Bô Gaultier de Kermoal ...
Le Barman
Loïc Le Page ...
Quentin
Nathalie Lacroix ...
L'Employée ANPE
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Storyline

Young secretary Carla is a long-time employee of a property development company. Loyal and hardworking, first to arrive and last to leave, Carla is beginning to chafe at the limitations of her career and is looking to move up. But as a 35-five-year-old woman with a hearing deficiency, she is not sure how to climb out of her humdrum life, though she is confident in her own abilities. Into her life comes Paul Angeli, a new trainee she decides to hire. Paul is 25 years old and completely unskilled, but Carla covers for him when the need arises because of his other qualities - he's a thief, fresh out of jail and very good-looking. It's a case of good meeting bad. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't believe everything you hear. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, violence and some sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 October 2001 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Read My Lips  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

FRF 49,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$27,080 (USA) (5 July 2002)

Gross:

$1,359,133 (USA) (27 November 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When she passes out she is wearing a sweater set, she is revived by unbuttoning her blouse, but is back in the sweater set to meet with her boss. See more »

Connections

References Rear Window (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

The Child
(Alex Gopher)
Performed by Alex Gopher
(c) Tong/Edward B Marks
(p) 1999 Disque Solid
Courtesy of V2 Music and Disques Solid
"The Child" contains a sample of "God Bless the Child"
Written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr.
Performed by Billie Holiday
Used courtesy of Edward B. Marks Music Inc and MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Smell my shirt
12 January 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

For those of you who have seen this rather extraordinary romantic thriller noir, my review title is self-explanatory: this is cinema verité for the 21st century. For those of you who haven't, let me note that this begins slowly, so stay with it. You won't regret it.

What French director Jacques Audiard has done is create a taunt noir thriller with a romantic subplot intricately woven into the fabric of the main plot, told in the realistic and nonglamorous manner usually seen in films that win international awards. In fact, Sur mes lèvre did indeed win a Cesar (for Emmanuelle Devos) and some other awards. For Audiard character development and delineation are more important than action, yet the action is extremely tense. The romance is of the counter-cultural sort seen in films like, say, Kalifornia (1993) or Natural Born Killer (1994) or the Aussie Kiss or Kill (1997), a genre I call "grunge love on the lam" except that the principles here are not on the road (yet) and still have most of their moral compasses intact.

Vincent Cessel and Emmanuelle Devos play the nonglamorous leads, Paul and Carla. Carla is a mousy corporate secretary--actually she's supposed to be mousy, but in fact is intriguing and charismatic and more than a wee bit sexy. But she is inexperienced with men, doesn't dance, is something of a workaholic who lives out a fantasy life home alone with herself. She is partially deaf and adept at reading lips, a talent that figures prominently in the story. She is a little put on by the world and likes to remove her hearing aid or turn it off. When she collapses from overwork her boss suggests she hire an assistant. She hires Paul, who is just out of prison, even though he has no clerical experience. He is filled with the sort of bad boy sex appeal that may recall Jean-Paul Belmondo in Godard's Breathless (1959) or even Richard Gere in the American remake from 1983. We get the sense that Carla doesn't realize that she hired him because she found him attractive. When Carla gets squeezed out of credit for a company deal, she gets Paul to help her turn the tables. From there it is but a step to a larger crime. Note that Carla is unconsciously getting Paul to "prove" his love for her (and his virility) by doing what she wants, working for her, appearing in front of her girl friends as her beau, etc.

The camera work features tense, off-center closeups so that we see a lot of the action not in the center of our field of vision but to the periphery as in things partially hidden or overheard or seen out of the corner of our eyes. Audiard wants to avoid any sense of a set or a stage. The camera is not at the center of the action, but is a spy that catches just enough of what is going on for us to follow. Additionally, the film is sharply cut so that many scenes are truncated or even omitted and it is left for us to surmise what has happened. This has the effect of heightening the viewer's involvement, although one has to pay attention. Enhancing the staccato frenzy is a sparse use of dialogue. This works especially well for those who do not speak French since the distraction of having to follow the subtitles is kept to a minimum.

Powering the film is a script that reveals and explores the unconscious psychological mechanisms of the main characters while dramatizing both their growing attraction to each other and their shared criminal enterprise. But more than that is the on-screen chemistry starkly and subtly developed by both Devos and Cessel. It is pleasing to note that the usual thriller plot contrivances are kept to a minimum here, and the surprises really are surprises.

See this for Emmanuelle Devos whose skill and offbeat charisma more than make up for a lack of glamor, and for Vincent Cessel for a testosterone-filled performance so intense one can almost smell the leather jacket.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)


52 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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