Tribeca ’11: Romantics Anonymous
(trailer here), which screens during the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
Angélique Delange is a gifted chocolatier, but she is paralyzed with shyness. Through sheer force of will, she manages to apply for a job at a down-market chocolate company, run by the gruff but ragingly insecure Jean-René Van Den Hugde. Sensing a fellow chocolate devotee, Van Den Hudge hires her on the spot. Unfortunately, it is for a sales position she is spectacularly unsuited for. Having accepted already, Delange tries to timidly carry on as best she can. Eventually though, Delange realizes she most use her true talents to save the floundering company.
Working under a veil of secrecy, Delange once made confections that delighted French gourmets. However, when her protective boss died, the secret of his chocolatier “hermit” died with him. Yet, resurrecting the old hermit cover proves relatively easy. Going on a date with the boss is devilishly difficult, for both of them.
Like chocolate, Anonymous is sweet film with a hint of bitterness to make it real. While everyone plays it for laughs, Améris and co-writer Philippe Blasband never minimize the challenges of the would-be couples’ extreme social awkwardness. They are not portrayed as freaks or loons, but as people who need a little more encouragement to come out of their shells (granted though, Van Den Hugde certainly has his eccentricities).
Benoît Poelvoorde (probably still best known for the creepy Man Bites Dog) is fantastic as Van Den Hugde, showing an aptitude for broad comedy while keeping the character totally grounded. Likewise, as Delange, Isabelle Carré engagingly projects both a brittle vulnerability and an arresting innocence.