DESPERATE TO PROVE she loves him, Camille shouts recklessly at a happily married man, then breaks a plate over her head for emphasis. It's one of many comical—and telling—moments in Catherine Corsini's film about a woman who's both cynical about marriage yet discontented with singlehood.
Neurotic, headstrong, but a self-proclaimed "true romantic," Camille (Karin Viard) is a tall, angular gamine with a pixie haircut who always seems to end up with Mr. Not Quite Right. "Some day, you'll meet someone who'll love your stubbornness," consoles Alexis (Pierre-Loup Rajot), the unavailable object of her desire. In the meantime, she attends parties where condoms are distributed in punch bowls and pills are offered like mints.
THE NEW EVE
directed by Catherine Corsini with Karin Viard, Pierre-Loup Rajot, and Sergi Lopez runs September 29-October 12 at Grand Illusion
But why is it that all the good men are already taken? Camille never asks that question explicitly, but she acts as if its premise were a self-evident truth. She meets nice-guy Ben (an amusing Sergi Lopez from An Affair of Love), but only to use him for "passing the time." Ben retorts that loving a married man is masochistic and irresponsible, but this does little to dissuade her from pursuing Alexis.
While Corsini's film is well made, with Viard giving a powerful performance, the story raises troublesome questions. Camille is a modern-day contradiction sure to hit home with some female viewers, yet anger them as well. Do all single, independent women secretly dream about being swept off their feet by a man? Early on, Camille tells her friends, "I'm not going to beg for intimacy here and there, getting the crumbs." But her actions speak otherwise.
Camille is as obsessive and self-destructive as so many French lovers in cinema history. It's difficult to like her: She's demanding, annoying, and comes across as terribly lacking in conviction. Dazed from drugs and party-hopping, she throws herself onto the first available man—or woman—she meets. She's just as hypocritical as she imagines bourgeois couples to be, which is apparently Corsini's point—but to what purpose? Are we supposed to reject Camille as we laugh at her antics? Or is this caricature a critique of a society lacking in models of genuine female independence?
In her final whirlwind of incongruous behavior, this new Eve seems as much the passive scapegoat as her Biblical counterpart. In one memorable bar scene, our drunken antiheroine is slowly passed from the arms of one man to another. It says more about Camille's hapless character than anything she voices about herself.