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Non-Fiction

May 28, 2019

Talk, talk, book, books, love, love--very French, very entertaining.

Non-Fiction

Grade: A-

Director: Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria)

Screenplay: Assayas

Cast: Juliette Binoche (Let the Sunshine In), Guillaume Canet (Tell No One)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 48 min

By: John DeSando

“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” Stephen Fry

If you like things French such as conversation, books, love, infidelity, bourgeoise comforts, Eric Rohmer, and Juliette Binoche, then go right to Olivier Assayas’ Non-Fiction. Here’s a fiction film about incessant arguing over books vs. e-books, roman a clef, and the politics of publishing in a world where the Internet is shaping even the way talented authors structure their dramas.

Books and the Internet, along with the shape of e-books, informs almost every heated discussion of the fetching comedy with a bit of darkness to make it oh-so French interesting. Publisher Alain (Guillaume Canet) refuses to publish long-time writer and client Leonard’s (Vincent Macaigne) newest novel possibly because Leonard has a habit of disguising well know people in his characters, this time may be Selena, wife of Alain, and lover of Leonard. After six years of this tomfoolery, do you think Alain might know?

While Assayas has a good old time with this old-time French drawing room stuff, all get togethers evolve into arguments about the viability of hard-bound books versus digital newcomers. No conclusion is made, except for the viewer who delights in the robust shenanigans that disguise the obsession writers and publishers now have over the mortality of books, hard or soft.

Regardless, the middle-aged literati are disguising their own fear of extinction in the face of Tweeted emotions in so many words and young folk who may not read anymore anyway. Even promotion of a book must attend to the right navigation on social media.

It’s all heady words for this word lover who is delighted by such clever screwball setups and the idea, like any debate about the existence of God, that because we talk about books, they will endure. This comedy is not so much raucous as it is profound with a whole bunch of French sensibility and sex. I vote for that to endure right along with books.

“Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food.” Douglas Adams

JohnDeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com