Look at Me (Comme une image)
With her first feature, The Taste of Others, and this effort, writer-director-actress Agnès Jaoui has proven herself an able chronicler of the lifestyles of the rich and Parisian. In Look at Me (Comme une image) (2004), she presents a panoply of characters ranging from struggling writers to successful writers and from aspiring singers to vocal instructors. If that implies a somewhat narrow focus on a social strata composed of the cultural elite and those on their fringes, Jaoui is still able to muster sympathy for personalities which, in other hands, would be subjected to merciless parody. The film centers on Lolita (the charming Marilou Berry), the plump daughter of a famous novelist and publisher played by Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jaoui's real-life husband and frequent collaborator. His self-involved neglect only feeds her diseased self-image, although it seems clear to us, if not to Lolita, that his disdain has a broader reach than merely her weight. Jaoui herself turns in a fine performance as Sylvia, striving songbird Lolita's singing coach. Sylvia sees little promise in the young woman's voice box, but when she learns who Lolita's father is, she dotes on her in the hopes of advancing the career of her novelist husband (Laurent Grévill). The egotism, dysfunction, and other foibles of the über-bourgeois play out, leading to a rather non-Hollywood finale. And yet Look at Me is not an angry film, merely an observational one. An American take on this tale would probably take the tack of exposing these celebrated folks as shallow and despicable. But Jaoui seems intent on reminding us that just because they're no better than the rest of us, that doesn't mean they're necessarily any worse. Sony/Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Look at Me presents a flawless anamorphic transfer of the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with the French-language soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. English and Spanish subtitles are available. The disc also includes eight deleted scenes, some of which are amusing but none of which merits inclusion in the film. A "making-of" featurette proves to be mostly of the promotional variety, albeit a more thoughtful version than those usually accompanying Hollywood movies. Keep-case.