L'Ami de Mon Amie (the boyfriend of my girlfriend)

Distributed with English subtitles as
"Boyfriends and Girlfriends"

L'Ami de Mon Amie has essentially the same plot as Closer. But, whereas that film (Closer) is very bitter and painful, this film (L'Ami de Mon Amie) is very sweet and loving. Closer is very Anglo (the two women--Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman--are heavily American [even though Portman was born in Jerusalem, she speaks and moves pure Californese] and the two men--Jude Law and Clive Owen--are solidly British). Ami is typically French, as are all four young people. Whereas the four characters in Closer are boorish, cruel, and sadistic/masochistic, the four characters in Ami are clever, kind, and gentle. Amused Gallic smiles play around their lips and eyes, and they often deliver the characteristic French "poof" with pursed lips. They are über-sophisticated, dwelling on the outskirts of Paris. Alexandre is a hydraulic engineer, and Blanche is a bureaucrat. By contrast the characters in Closer walk louchely and search out ways to hurt each other, even when (especially when?) they feel they're in love. Portman is a stripper, and Owen, although a physician, is a perverted ape-man.

In each film, the plot allows the lovers to find the ones they really belong with. But the entire purpose of this short review is to praise and laugh with the visual effects of the final scene of "L'Ami de Mon Amie" (pictured below). After a few silly mix-ups ("You were talking about Fabien?! I thought you meant Alexandre!") we see the two "correct" pairs come together by accident, while trying to avoid each other. The four pictures below allow you, even if you haven't seen the film, to enjoy it almost as much as if you had seen it. Blanche (green dress) has been in love with pretty boy Alexandre (green shirt) for a while. Lea (blue shirt) has been living with Fabien (blue shirt) on week-days and with her parents on week-ends. Blanche, obeying the unwritten rule that she would never take the boyfriend of her best (girl)friend, hesitates to claim her right to Fabien, even after they make love and even after Fabien and Lea have broken up. She pines instead after Alexandre, who can have any woman he wants, but always lazily lets women choose him. Finally, Alexandre states his affection for Lea in a wonderful scene during which she asks him about his type (French word = "genre") of woman, and he describes Lea with a twinkle in his eye. She protests, "I told you to stop coming on to me." "But you asked me about my type, and I was simply telling you." She asks him to wait for six months before she moves in with him; he agrees but suggests that since six months is so long, maybe six days would be better. Six months, she insistently repeats. After six days, she tells him that six months have passed.

So, this final scene pictured below emblematizes the chiasmus that has been worked out in the plot: Blanche and Alexandre (after whom she has pined unrequitedly) wearing green, shake hands in picture 1. (Everybody is always shaking hands and kissing for greetings and adieux.) In picture 2, former lovers Lea and Fabien, wearing blue, kiss to say hello. In picture 1 Blanche's arm in the green dress crosses over Lea's blue shirt to shake the hand of Alexandre in the green shirt. In picture 2, Fabien has stepped behind Blanche as they perform a kind of do-si-do, so the two blue shirts can come together, framed by the green book-ends. In picture 3 the two couples step back from each other, and each man holds the correct woman while smiling understandingly. Finally, in picture 4, while Lea begins to leave, thus creating a blue-green-blue-green pattern complementary to picture 1's green-blue-green-blue, the two men shake hands good-bye. Fabien takes one last look at his former lover, while Blanche giggles with delight that she has found the right man. It's an absolutely charming conclusion to an absolutely charming film. Eric Rohmer, the director, specializes in these little moral comedies of desire and love.

I thoroughly enjoyed Closer. It virtually hynotized me. But I adored L'Ami de Mon Amie, which cleansed and charmed me.