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Carla Bhem (Emmanuelle Devos) has been working conscientiously as a senior secretary for a property development company for some years, yet she still isnít respected and rewarded by the male-dominated company. But at 35 with an underwhelming physique and needing a hearing aid in both ears, her options are limited. However, when she is encouraged to get an assistant and recruits Paul (Vincent Cassel), a roguish thief fresh out of jail, she unwittingly embarks on a new course in life. So does he.

Review by Louise Keller:
A delectable and intriguing thriller filled with surprises, Read My Lips is an original. This is a story of two misfits who donít stand a chance alone, but together they are magnificent. When Carla meets Paul, although he is totally unsuitable for the office assistant job, she hires him, but quickly finds other ways for him to be of use. They are both needy and vulnerable, but very different. 

Slowly we become involved in both their lives Ė Carlaís frustrated and isolated life compounded by her hearing impairment, and Paulís hopeless attempt to start a new life hindered by his past. They are both flawed, and almost unwillingly are drawn to each other Ė at first for what they can get out of the other. Carla is so used to being used by colleagues and even by friends; her escape is her secret fantasy life when alone with only her thoughts and surrounded by silence. Paul too lives in two worlds and suddenly together they are both working double shifts in dual lives. 

It starts with a favour, but then the favour has a price and becomes an obligation. Like a see-saw, the balance of need shifts from one to the other. Writer/director Jacques Audiardís superb script keeps us guessing at every turn, and I love the way he effectively uses sound and framing to enhance and conceal plot points at crucial times. Itís tense, gripping and at times positively terrifying. 

The ever-versatile Vincent Cassel is mesmerising as the ex con with the shifty eyes that donít miss a trick and the nerve that never lets up. Emmanuelle Devos, who won the best actress award at the 2002 Cesars, is wonderful as the multi-layered, complex mousy spinster. And together Cassel and Devos are dynamite. The sub plot with the parole officer never really ignites, but offers an interesting diversion. 

The plot is really edgy and I found the premise really exciting. Read My Lips satisfies on every count, as the clever twists never stop and we are hooked. I especially like the French title Ė Sur Mes Levres (on my lips), which has a slightly different connotation to the English translation.

Published February 19, 2004

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CAST: Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Devos, Olivier Gourmet, Olivier Perrier, Olivia Bonamy

DIRECTOR: Jacques Audiard

SCRIPT: Jacques Audiard, Tonino Benacquista

RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16: 9 widescreen


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 18, 2004

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