French filmmaker Cédric Klapisch’s latest film is a clever, original romance wherein the two leads, clearly meant to be together, are too busy living their lives as neighbors who never cross paths to ever find time to actually fall in love. Edited with a witty sense of humor that keeps us rooting for these two—will they ever realize how intertwined their lives really are?—Someone, Somewhere sees Klapisch excelling in a space he’s more than comfortable in: exploring the way our choices shape our relationships and, in the end, our overall happiness. Throw in a little bit of dreamlike surrealism and a touch of parallel realities and the result is a perceptive, satisfying foreign film perfect for a date night in during quarantine.
Reuniting with two of his stars from 2018’s Back to Burgundy, François Civil and Ana Girardot play two young Parisians living rather ordinary millennial lives; Rémy (Civil), recently laid off from his job in a warehouse, finds a position filling customer orders at a call center while Mélanie (Girardot) works in a lab where she’s prepping to deliver one of the biggest reports of her career. Both clearly going through some things, they do what any self-respecting twenty-something of the selfie-driven generation would: they each start going to therapy. Early on, we realize we’re essentially watching two films at once; through smartly placed cuts and clever conventions in the plot (a certain adorable chat named Nugget comes into play), we understand just how connected Rémy and Mélanie really are, even if they haven’t got a clue.
Where a typical romcom kicks off the action with a meet-cute, our hero and heroine both reaching for the same, last item on the shelf or absentmindedly bumping into each other at the subway entrance, Klapisch and co-screenwriter Santiago Amigorena opt to turn that convention on its head entirely. Most of the film is in fact all the toil and trouble leading up to the inevitable connection, all the hassle and heartache Rémy and Mélanie have to navigate without the slightest idea that the other is in their future. It’s excruciating, and delightful. While he’s processing his mild depression and figuring out how to relate better to his parents, Rémy gets settled at his new job with the help of a cute coworker at the desk behind his. They grab lunch together, go on an awkward date…it’s promising, but not meant to be. Meanwhile, Mélanie’s facing the abandonment issues her absent father left her and striking up casual connections via France’s version of Tinder. One of them even leads to an eventful night in; it just so happens that it’s the night before her big presentation.
Klapish and Amigorena deftly balance the sincerity of Rémy’s and Mélanie’s experiences—who can’t sympathize with an estranged mother and overprotective sister, or repressed parents who make it hard to express any emotion—with the absurdity of it all, this endless search of ours to fix things. Each of their therapists is as comical as they are helpful, challenging their client’s motives while sometimes making us question theirs. Both Rémy and Mélanie shop at the same bodega on their street, often coming so close to bumping into each other that it’s unbearable; meanwhile, Civil and Girardot are clearly having fun leaning into their character’s quirks and inner struggles. Each desperately wants to get it—life—right, they just don’t know yet quite how. It’s a fact that’s never more apparent than in their respective dream sequences, fun and slightly hypnotic scenes that would feel off-beat if the film weren’t already so willing to be a little bit of an oddball.
Someone, Somewhere is a contemporary love story by any definition, about how we do (or nearly don’t) fall in love in a digitally connected, personally disconnected world that makes it hard to see what’s right in front of us. Klapisch knows his way around the human heart well enough to take a few risks along the way, making the resolution to this will-they-won’t-they roller coaster all the more enjoyable.
The film is now available at Music Box Theatre’s Virtual Cinema.