The cream puff. The éclair. The soufflé. France is known for delicious sweets that are short on substance, more air than “there.” Perfecting them is an art, but even when they are so-so, most people will eat them up.
French films can be whipped up the same way. “Love Is in the Air” is a romantic bit of fluff that benefits tremendously from its ingredients and presentation: the lovely Ludivine Sagnier as Julie, the sensible one, and the perfectly dashing, and dashingly French, Nicolas Bedos as Antoine, the player.
The two are ex-lovers, three years removed from their breakup, who are accidentally seated together on a flight from New York to Paris.
They may be in business class, but for Julie, at least, the seat is hugely uncomfortable. She has moved on with her life, pursued a career as an artist and become engaged to a man even more sensible and organized than herself.
For Antoine, life has continued as it did before he met Julie. We meet him as he wakes up late, rushing around his apartment and encountering various drowsy women as he shakes off his hangover and dashes to make the plane. Working in New York, he’s heading back to Paris for a job interview.
The director cooking up this little tale of comedic coincidence, Alexandre Castagnetti, has a deft touch for showing his story rather than telling it, even though the couple’s history is presented as a narrative that Antoine shares with their fellow passengers on the long flight.
They are attentive listeners and a highly supportive supporting cast, fairly well divided between Julie’s camp and Antoine as he makes the case that he wasn’t so bad. Vividly told in quick flashbacks, the reminiscences get us out of the plane enough to stay interested.
Once we are outside the business-class compartment, Julie’s mother and Antoine’s best friend are around as highly partisan sounding boards, filling in gaps and giving each of the lover’s something to push off from as they follow their hearts.
The soundtrack of pop songs and split-screen techniques are a homage to 1960s romances usually starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, but this young couple has more flair – more like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn’s “Roman Holiday.”
The script is light and much like a typical sitcom, except for some brief nudity.
In other words, “Love Is in the Air” is like a springtime visit to the pastry shop. Nourishing? Not really. But there are times when a sweet and airy treat is all you need.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
Starring: Ludivine Sagnier, Nicolas Bedos
Director: Alexandre Castagnetti
Running time: 96 minutes
Rating: R for brief nudity and sexual conversation.
The Lowdown: Two ex-lovers seated side-by-side on a transoceanic flight are forced to reconnect. In French with subtitles.