Over the years filmmakers have taken advantage time and time again of the fact that the movie going public seems to have a fascination for prostitution. From glossy productions (Pretty Woman) to disturbingly down and dirty pieces (Stella Does Tricks) we’ve been privy to the lives of (predominantly) women making a living strutting their stuff for men. This time around it’s the beautiful Monica Bellucci (The Brothers Grimm) selling herself to the rather unassuming Bernard Campan in How Much Do You Love Me?, a romance of sorts that is equal parts subtle and ostentatious.
The film constantly lulls one into a false sense of security – muted tones and quietly spoken dialogue – until suddenly filling our ears with opera or jazz, and overexposing proceedings so that the characters are bathed in a brilliant white light. This often coincides with the ‘unveiling’ of Bellucci, who is pretty much presented as the epitome of feminine sexuality, and every man’s dream. Paradoxically however, this film isn’t all that sexually explicit – more often it is the reactions of the male characters that allude to what could happen next.
Unfortunately the film was a little too dry for me. Neither Bellucci nor Campan’s characters appealed, and I never felt for their predicament, even when disruption appeared in the form of Gerard Depardieu (36 Quai des Orfèvres). The deliberately farcical nature of many scenes (usually in response to Bellucci’s mostly bra-less appearances) jarred, preventing me from any commitment to the characters. The setting felt isolated, even when they were in the middle of the city, and rather than focussing the attention this tactic merely made the experience all the more sterile.
The performances seem constrained and the surroundings are bland. Bellucci usually impresses, but here her confidence seems merely insipid. Campan is convincing, but the script has him acting rather inconsistently from scene to scene. Finally, Depardieu’s appearance feels merely lazy, but then again I’ve found him (at least in recent years) to be rather overrated. Together the three simply failed to gel (or clash) effectively whenever they interacted. If I’d been given a chance to feel for the characters’ predicament, I may have enjoyed this more.Rating: