“Read My Lips,” A clever and offbeat character study about two people discovering each other premieres in Geneva Thursday at the Smith Opera House.
Some couples destroy each other and some complete each other, and at times it's hard to distinguish the first from the second. Jacques Audiard's “Read My Lips” coolly and expertly twists around our sense of love and justice. It's an intelligent and sometimes brutal modern French noir about a couple who initially seem wildly mismatched: an intelligent, dowdy woman and a brutal, handsome and somewhat dumb guy.
Emmanuelle Devos plays the woman, Carla Behm, a smart secretary at a French real estate firm, and Vincent Cassel plays Paul Angeli, a rough ex-con 10 years her junior whom Carla hires as her assistant. From their first moments together, there's a jarring sense of wrongness. Overworked and dumped on by her fellow employees, perhaps because of her frumpy looks and hearing impairment, Carla conceals a tigress inside. She hires the wild, scruffy Paul despite the fact that he knows nothing about faxes, computers or real estate and lies on almost every question in their first interview.
Paul seems to know little about any professions besides armed robbery and barkeeping, and his idea of showing his gratitude for Carla's help is to have sex with her. But Carla, who resists at first, seems fascinated, and after Paul is beaten up by the agents of sleazy nightclub owner Marchand (Olivier Gourmet) and forced to work off the debt he owes Marchand by working at his club, she's drawn into his world just as he was drawn into hers.
More and more, they begin to seem complementary. She's intelligent but awkward. He's unfettered but tough. She can use his fists and psychopathic temperament, and because of her partial deafness, Carla has a talent that Paul can employ well. She can read lips — including Marchand's as he talks deals in his apartment with his crooked cronies.
“Read My Lips” will be screened November 14 – 17. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. In French with English subtitles, its running time is 1 hour, 55 minutes. It has no MPAA rating. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. All seats on Thursday are $3.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. Call 781-LIVE or toll-free 1-866-355 LIVE for additional information.