Picture a room full of shy, anxious people engaging in group therapy similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Recipe for disaster, right? It is also a recipe for hilarity in Jean-Pierre Améris’ charming and heart-warming comedy Romantics Anonymous. The support group for emotionally intense people, Les Emotifs Anonymes, which was the original title of the film, is a place where gifted chocolate-maker Angelique (Isabelle Carré) expresses her concerns over her increasing anxiety and stifling shyness, and her desire for her new boss Jean-Rene (Benoît Poelvoorde) who suffers from a similar case of profound inhibition that has prevented him from ever having a relationship.
Améris wanted to tell a story about the fear that infects people and stops them from trying in life. “I wanted to tell a story involving this fear but with a light-hearted approach that could inspire confidence in people who share the characters’ suffering to different degrees,” he said. This is achieved through the enchanting and vulnerable quality of the acting in a film reminiscent Four Weddings and a Funeral, with a stylish French slant. The crippling awkwardness and cringe-worthy interactions between the protagonists will remind many of situations in their own romantic lives, and the outcome will bring hope to audiences as much as singing I Have Confidence In Me from the Sound of Music, over-and-over again, gives Angelique the confidence to embrace life. (MH) ***1/2