M. Blier raises some interesting questions in his 2005 comedy drama, "Combien tu m'aimes?" [Eng. Title: How Much do you Love Me?] - what would you do if you won the lottery, can love be purchased, can a prostitute ever cease to be one, can an ordinary person dream beyond his means. His answers to all these questions are there in the film, if you care to see.
This film could have also made a rather good play because the screenplay and situations have a distinctly theatrical feel about it, and the characters are more or less caricatures of themselves. You have the dreary clerk, who propositions a prostitute to live with him - he intends to use the winnings from a lottery for this purpose, the prostitute who likes the idea of change but finds domestic bliss too humdrum, you have her pimp and husband who's caught between his innate obnoxious nature and feelings of love for her, and you have the clerk's friend - a doctor who pretends to live with a woman who had died years ago. All these characters play out their roles the way M. Blier sees it. And he shows the middle-finger to those who expect a 'conventional' ending. Even some Bertrand Blier fans hate this film, but they forget, this is the way he had always made his films.
There are only a few brief nude scenes in the film, but it is more than made up by the magnetic presence of one Monica Bellucci, who plays the Italian prostitute Daniela, whom bank clerk François hires as a live-in 'wife' for 100,000 Euro a month. Sig.ra Bellucci was already forty when she made this film, but gives womenkind a masterclass in the art of seduction and sensuality, using not much more than her eyes and body. If nothing else, the film is worth a sleepless night at least for those God-given curves. I've therefore included some non-nude but nevertheless sensual and funny scenes that I believe to be the 'visual' highlights of the film, cut straight from my DVD.
Compilation 1: a combination of several scenes:
- Daniela takes pity on François' low esteem and rewards him by being a loving wife.
- Daniela and François having sex in the car.
- An exhibitionist Daniela gives the poor old doctor heart failure when he's summoned to examine her nausea - she even throws up in the scene. But, is it just me who thinks even that is somewhat sexy? (I probably need to go and see somebody!)
- Mourning over, Daniela asks François to come with her to southern Italy.
Compilation 2 - made from several scenes:
- This is a funny scene - an annoyed neighbour, distracted by Daniela's loud moans, knocks on their door and asks Daniela not to pretend for the sake of it - she then goes to show them how a real orgasm would actually sound like! The neighbour is played by the sexy and funny Farida Rahouadj.
- Daniela is brought back home by Charly, her husband-pimp, after threatening poor old François over the consequences. But she's by now grown fond of François' gentle touch and doesn't quite like Charly's anymore. When questioned, she tells him that despite knowing who she was, François gave her back her modesty, to which Charly says he too could give her back her modesty. He summons his bodyguards in, and asks them to touch her all they want. Gérard Depardieu plays Charly, and this is probably the weakest character I've seen him play - he was probably returning Blier a favour.
- When Charly allows Daniela to return back to François, she finds him busy shagging his next door neighbour. When she knocks on their door for an explanation, he excuses himself by saying he can't possibly leave her half way, and they ask for a few more minutes to finish the job!
- François lets Daniela know that he hadn't won the lottery after all, and it was just an excuse to get her to live with him. A furious Daniela also appears to be in love, and for a change, he takes her like a man. What's interesting is Blier shows Daniela crying with ecstasy while making love. Hmmm...!