Film review: ‘The Names of Love’
Wed, Aug 31, 2011 (5:51 p.m.)
Leave it to the French to make a romantic comedy that’s as much about political, racial and national identity as it is about meet-cutes and silly misunderstandings. Those elements are present in Michel Leclerc’s The Names of Love, too, but he handles them with the same exuberance and passion he brings to the questions of heritage and civic duty, and somehow the movie makes an inspired connection between romantic and cultural angst. Sara Forestier is wonderful as a free-spirited activist whose strategy is to sleep with her political opponents in order to convert them, and Jacques Gamblin complements her nicely as the straitlaced government scientist she accidentally falls in love with. Sometimes the balance of seriousness and frivolity seems unwieldy, but Leclerc is so adept at both that it’s easy to gloss over the awkward transitions. Any movie that can wring hilarity out of a scene in which the heroine keeps making inadvertent Holocaust references has to be doing something right.