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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
I settled back to watch "Read My Lips," a plate of Freedom Fries before me. The food was quickly forgotten as I became engrossed by director and co-writer Jacques Audiard's original and superb thriller.
Carla (Emmanuelle Devos) is a secretary at a firm that develops major building projects. She actually has some significant responsibilities that don't often fall to secretaries and she's capable and ambitious. And thwarted by a male hierarchy that will exploit but not reward her.
Work piling up faster than she can handle it, Carla is told to hire a secretary. Enter ex-con and general layabout Paul (Vincent Cassel). He lies about his skills and in fact has none that any legitimate enterprise might require. After an initial serious misunderstanding by Paul as to Carla's interest in him, the two become allies. A quirky friendship starts. In a stunt that would have made a real Carla a major contender on "The Apprentice," she trumps her egotistic male adversary at work with Paul's connivance. Exit the rival.
Carla is virtually deaf without her hearing aid. With it she hears almost normally. She turns the hearing aid off to isolate herself from unpleasant sounds and annoying people. She's also very lonely. A heroic makeup effort was made to have her appear plain but she's truly beautiful. She hasn't a boyfriend. She babysits so a friend can have a liaison (it IS a French movie) Worse and humiliatingly, she accedes to a girlfriend's plea that she hang out somewhere while that married friend has it off with her paramour in Carla's bed. Not nice.
As Carla and Paul get to know each other better, the barely repressed larcenous side of the not so former felon emerges. There's a side story, by the way, of Paul's relationship with his parole officer which neatly complements the main plot and has its own big surprise ending.
"Read My Lips?" Ingenious Paul recognizes that Carla's ability to read lips, even from a considerable distance, is more than the amusing parlor trick it first seems to be.
From there a caper develops. Enough said.
Paul and Carla are a true criminal oddball couple. She wants love but will also accept money. He wants her, sort of, but business must come before possible erotic satiation. Together Cassel and Devos are strong actors carrying an unusual crime tale to its end very convincingly.
Rent it or buy it but if you enjoy a good crime story you'll go for "Read My Lips." And you may well want to watch it several times: I do.
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