Being a French film, “How Much Do You Love Me?” can probably get away with its seemingly contradictory styles and execution. However, the combination of quirky delivery, comedy, drama and ridiculous characterisation do not really work for most of the film, despite individual examples that are entertaining. This film works in moments, but not as a whole.
Francois (Bernard Capman) is an average office worker who walks in to an upmarket brothel to pick up the beautiful hooker Daniela (Monica Bellucci). He tells her he just won the lottery and is prepared to pay her 100,000 Euros a month to live with him until his money runs out. She agrees, but lays down some ground rules to ensure the arrangement will run smoothly. However, it does not all go according to plan, particularly when gangster Charlie (Gerard Depardieu) shows up, demanding Daniela back.
This film’s best moments are its individual moments of comedy. A catty argument between Daniela and a younger hooker is particularly amusing midway through the film as both women argue over their respective virtues with Francois. Another moment is when Daniela is discovered to be faking with Francois, with his next door neighbour asking Francois to check whether or not her eyes roll in the back of her head. The funniest moment of all occurs when Francois reveals he did not win the lottery at all, much to the dismay of Daniela, causing her to run back to Charlie.
The film goes off the rails because it does not have a consistent tone or direction. Moments of comedy, drama, quirkiness, serious thematic exploration are all thrown in to the mix but are never fused together well. The comedy in the end makes the serious messages the film is imparting about the relationships between the characters seem all the more ridiculous. In the end, you are not sure whether to laugh or to take it all seriously. But then again, it’s French right? Anything goes!
“How Much Do You Love Me?” is a film that works in parts but does not work as a whole. It is an interesting exercise in some parts but far from satisfying.
For the complete, original DVD review, click this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/dvdreviewhowmuchdoyouloveme.htm
Alex DeMattia is the lead DVD reviewer at the film/DVD review web site All About Movies.net. He also contributes reviews and articles for the Digicosm Film Blog: http://www.filmannex.com/Digicosm