A digitally shrunk Jean Dujardin is long on charm as a 4ft 6in man who falls for tall blonde Virginie Efira in French romantic comedy Up for Love.
In an era when everyone is swiping right and left, what moves remain for makers of romantic comedies? Can they still give the genre fresh twists and not get themselves into impossible contortions? With Up for Love (Un homme à la hauteur), French director Laurent Tirard proves game for the challenge, though it will be up to the viewer to decide whether he has tied himself in knots.
His first step, getting the film’s romantic couple together, couldn’t be simpler: he has contrived a good, old-fashioned meet cute. Virginie Efira’s Diane, a tall, blonde and beautiful lawyer, takes a phone call from enigmatic stranger Alexandre, played by The Artist’s dashing Jean Dujardin. He tells her he has picked up the mobile phone she left behind in a restaurant and proposes meeting for a drink to hand it back. Attracted by his suave, flirtatious manner, Diane agrees.
Their rendezvous is when Tirard delivers his big twist: although every bit as charming in the flesh as he was on the phone, Alexandre is only 4ft 6in tall. In all else, he certainly measures up. He is amiable, amusing, good company, and a rich and successful architect to boot. He is, however, at least a foot and a half shorter than Diane’s idea of Prince Charming. Will her qualms about what the world – not to mention her ex and her mother – thinks of Alexandre’s stature stunt their relationship before it has a chance to grow?
As it turns out, the person who is really obsessed with Alexandre’s height is director and co-writer Tirard (here adapting the 2013 Argentinean film Córazon de León). He certainly doesn’t pass an opportunity to crack a sight gag based on his romantic hero’s size. The willowy Diane towers over Alexandre, and all the other women he knows appear to be similarly Amazonian. His feet don’t reach the floor when he sits in a chair. And he gets knocked off them every time his pet dog bounds up to greet him.
As Dujardin is around 6ft, Tirard has had to resort to all manner of CGI and other trickery to make these gags work. Whether the effort was worthwhile is another matter. Dujardin’s casting and the sizeist jokes may leave you with misgivings, but there is no denying the charisma of Up for Love’s stars. Efira lights up the screen and Dujardin has charm to burn. Now, who can write them a romantic comedy with a genuinely fresh, up-to-date twist?
Certificate 12A. Runtime 98 mins. Director Laurent Tirard