Fuck me, there’s another film with ‘quantum’ in the title! Here old Jack was wandering through life thinking Quantum of Solace was it, a title that probably tripled the marketing budget in the States. But, bravo, Mr Bond, for sticking to your vaguely impenetrable way of getting a teensy-weensy bit of comfort. Anyway, ten seconds on imdb and it turns out there’s a ton of them: Quantum Leap (shut up, I know)! Quantum is Calling! Quantum Love! Let’s stop there as that last one’s about two people, caught in the loyalties and vicissitudes of middle-age, nearly betraying their better natures, and doing it.
I mean the slurpy.
Okay, that’s less clear. I mean sex.
As an old liberal, I’ve got a small pile of old, liberal friends. Many of them have spent sixty years trying to open up and be modern men, which means I’ve had to sit through their guilt-rambles every time a beautiful girl joins their office and inadvertently beguiles them with a bright smile or a new blouse. The worst part is hearing the fantasies. Not the crude stuff, no, it’s the ‘I dreamt she baked a charity cake and I bought every piece and we fell in love and oh God I’m so married and awful and hate myself’. Never underestimate the need for modern men to be snipered.
Where was I?
Quantum Love. In which crazy-successful bloody-hell-she’s-never-that-old Sophie Marceau meets middle-aged Hoffman-a-like François Cluzet at a party. They bond over illicit habits from the 1980s, tangibly fancy one another in a swirl of music, colours and nearly-snogging and then bounce off into real life with…and this is the fun of the film…intrusive fantasies playing out the affair that isn’t. Tellingly, they agree not to swap numbers… And all that, I believe, meets the Film 1.01 definition of meet-cute.
So…she tells friends – and almost nods at the audience when she says – she won’t date married men (got that, mesdames et messieurs?). He is happily married, still gets the jollies with his wife, loves his kid and, you know, it’s been fifteen years, so why fuck with it? One of his early fantasies is a skid through, passion, separation, divorce and misery. Which is not unlike the full life story montage in Up (2009) in that it wrenches real emotions from the audience and leaves you teary. Her fantasies are an antidote to single-parenthood, two kids, impending divorce, stress of launching her next wildly successful book and…she needs a lover, okay, but has moral certainties sent to punish her. You can tell by the raging when she loses her keys.
And then the plotting kicks in. Fantasies start to overlap with coincidence as Elsa and Pierre bump into each other en Paris. They have remarkably honest, dangerously sexy moments of acknowledgement and walk-aways. I understand this isn’t how affairs work: you don’t get to have your cake and fuck it as well. For the fantasies are emotional-intrusion porn of the classier kind. And you know this, as the audience, you’re having your intimates tickled by a story that is trying to finger your conscience at the same time. Lesson for the middle-aged, pre-philandery: don’t; fantasize to the hilt; knacker yourself from wanking; dodge the plot-conveniences of swapped numbers, jointly timed trips to far away (oh yes, we get that scene), or swoopy musical sweepings. Stay noble and…faintly dull. Better a life of agonized growth than one of regret, mais non?
Old Jack spent the whole film mesmerized by Marceau. She gives off owning-it gorgeousness like the late Mrs Jack after a Bobby-hits-the-pool Dallas. Which means the film has a weird contrast going on. She is beautiful, sexy, passionate-with-promise, confused, modern, stressed but impeccably dressed, and did I mention beautiful? For a man in a chair with wheels, she’s like a storm to make the spokes tremble. Are you getting my point? Cos then there’s Cluzet. Comfy, sweet, one twitch short of a Hoffman, with a kind nature, loving circumstance, odd hair, and a worried Lisa Azuelos (the director and Pierre’s wife Anne). Elsa and Pierre have consciences and make sensible decisions. So…someone took the marzipan off the cake.
Quantum Love is over in 80 minutes as there’s nowhere for it to go. There’s glamour, fun, laughs and the nearly-nearly of moral turpitude. And it stops.
I liked it. On Netflix, with passionate subtitles…