Romantics Anonymous is about the private comfort of sweets, and, as a romance that gently coddles the fantasies of shut-ins, it is the cinematic equivalent of its subject. A painfully shy but secretly gifted chocolatier, Angélique (Isabelle Carré, almost transparent with her milky complexion) gets an ill-fitting job as a tongue-tied sales rep for a chocolate company, The Chocolate Mill. Her new boss, Jean-René (Benoît Poelvoorde), is similarly plagued by a generalized anxiety, though he hides behind a facade of aloofness. Their mutually impossible personalities clash at a dinner date -- Carré and Poelvoorde spend much of the movie teetering on the brink of breaking into outright panic -- but Angélique and Jean-René melt together when they get on the subject of chocolate, fashioning a new specialty line to save the Mill from bankruptcy. Angélique defends the product she’s selling as “solid,” and “good, old-fashioned chocolate,” but the company’s last client, getting ready to drop her order, deems it “obsolete.” The same adjectives can apply to Romantics Anonymous -- Améris’s recipe here calls for everything in moderation, resulting in a movie that never threatens to offend nor, particularly, to delight, though it does offer a good view on a modestly charming actors’ duet.
July 20-26, 2012