A Treat to 'Look at Me'; Screenplay Winner at Cannes a Deft Film

Article excerpt

Byline: Scott Galupo, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The niche American audience that will see Agnes Jaoui's "Look at Me," which won the best screenplay prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival, will see a rarefied Parisian society that treats literary figures the way we treat Tom Cruise.

A self-serving cliche? An incisive self-criticism, actually, one that's underscored by what "Super Size Me" lovers might consider a surprising sight: a young French woman, Marilou Berry's Lolita, who is obese, and ironically invisible because of it.

With a touch that's as light as a yellow jacket, and as stinging, Miss Jaoui, who co-wrote the movie with husband Jean-Pierre Bacri, skewers the you-know-what goddess of success - those who chase her and those who think she's more real than reality. The cross talk among her ensemble cast is so seemingly natural and unforced that its often caustic ironies risk skipping right by you. (Watch and marvel at how deftly Miss Jaoui tracks the tributaries of conversation in a country-house lunch scene.)

Lolita is the daughter of Etienne Cassard (Mr. Bacri), a famous author and publisher with a trophy wife, a trophy toddler daughter and an ego that's as big as his manner is brusque. Men humor Lolita for backdoor access to her father. Etienne himself scarcely gives her the time of day.

Having tried and failed at theatrical acting, Lolita is now trying to make it as a choral-group soprano. (Performances of Verdi and Handel are sweet accompaniment to the movie's bitter world view.) Her vocal teacher, Sylvia (played by Miss Jaoui), regards her as a nuisance - that is, until she realizes who she is. …