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Read My Lips (Sur mes lèvres) Reviews

Page 1 of 13
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

July 3, 2007
Superb Hitchcockian thriller with a fantastic double act in Emmanuelle Devos & Vincent Cassel, who are both excellent. The film is unbearably tense, romantic, sexy, offbeat and finally oddly beautiful. The cinematography is great, the central conceit is used to great effect (sound design is particularly effective) and the direction taught. The director, Jacques Audiard, who has gone on to make the equally impressive The Beat That My Heart Skipped, is fast becoming a personal favorite...

Super Reviewer

December 12, 2007
I really loved this movie, a beautiful yet gritty romance/thriller. One of the best movies I have seen lately. Both Vincent Cassel and Emmanuelle Devos gave astounding performances. Since I have now seen all of Jacques Audiard's work, it is safe to stay that this is his masterpiece, with "A Prophet" tailing close behind.
September 3, 2012
Solid if unspectacular character study, thriller hybrid. Audiard's unique visual tendencies (tons of handheld, extreme close-ups and edge-of-frame compositions) are on full display. The sound design is top notch.
August 9, 2012
I could (and will) watch everything Audiard directs. Get to know this guy. He's bringing French cinema back in a big way and has an entire country behind him, cheering him on, the national. He tore up Cannes this year with Cotillard. El Prophet is one of my favorite films I'm blown away I don't own.
April 25, 2008
It's strange, I never even noted the production or release years of this film and, due to a colour filter used on the cover, was under the impression it was from the 60s or 70s. Of course, it was 30 or 40 years later that it was actually made, and that results in a completely different framework for the filmmakers to start from. I felt some tingle of recognition from the name Vincent Cassel, but I couldn't place it. Looking up his credits, I'm still not sure why. Yeah, I've seen Le Pacte des Loups (The Brotherhood of the Wolf) and Elizabeth and want to see The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, but I can't think of him in any of those movies.

Carla (Emmanuelle Devos) is a mostly deaf woman working as a secretary in an office. She uses two earpieces to manage normal hearing, keeping her hair down over them out of a certain shyness about this, but is still trod upon--more likely due to her quiet demeanour, politeness and occupational position than her disability, though that remains a likely culprit as well.She reads lips--hence the title--but does primarily use her aids. When she finally faints one day at work, her boss offers to hire an assistant for her--kind of a pleasant surprise, a helpful boss with all of these disrespectful coworkers?--and she accepts this. Her friend Annie (Olivia Bonamy) mentions her very, very active sex life and re-ignites Carla's lust, leading her to specifically request a young, male in particular for the assistant's position she's been allowed to hire. Enter Paul (Vincent Cassel), a rather dishevelled gentleman with a grubby moustache who says he has come to take the position on. Immediately defensive, Carla interviews him and finds him attractive, but is wary of the fact that he has just left prison. Still, she finds herself helping him to temporary housing, new clothes and his job--for which he is horribly undereducated--leading him into a feeling of obligation, which he first mistakes for something she wants only privately and is too shocked to accept when offered. Instead, she asks for his help as an ex-thief, to regain the work--and associated benefits--that she has been denied by self-serving coworkers. Soon the two are entangled in using their respective talents to benefit the other in illicit ways, growing closer in a dark, lusty way, rather than a cute romance--though certainly there's a bit of that kind of chemistry between the two actors.

Devos is excellent in her role, showing a strong woman cowed too many times, who remains just as submissive in most situations but will take a dominant position eventually when given the tools and opportunity to take it. Paul is reluctant to get involved in illicit activities again, taking his parole seriously, with hawk-eyed parole officer Masson (Olivier Perrier) interviewing him regularly about his progress. He is drawn in unwillingly though, and Cassel manages these transitions just as well as Devos does hers, the two circling each other in a mating dance that almost seems to bear points of hostility to prove oneself to the projected mate. It's fascinating, and with a supporting cast composed primarily of unseemly characters like loan shark Marchand (Olivier Gourmet)* that manages to push and prod the two of them into increasingly dangerous territory, a movie that starts out about the social position inhabited by the disabled rapidly turns into a clever, intelligent thriller of intense suspense that uses audio cues to manipulate the audience into sharing in Carla's way of hearing the world--audio is muffled when her aids are off, and accompanied by the rustle of them being replaced when she replaces them--and brings us ever closer to her view of everything.

*OK, what is this, "Oliver Foodterm" movie? I know, I know, they're French words with those associations in English, but two in one movie?
July 8, 2007
Emmanulle Devos is excellent as the lead role, portraying a deaf women. She is riduculed and taken advantage of at work until the hiring of a ex-con helps her to extract some revenge and realize the potentional of her abililty to read lips.Emmanuelle does a great job here, her isolation apparent without it being shoved in your face. The writing and directing are both excellent. This film is near perfect, I almost gave it five stars. But there is a third story going on about the ex-con's parole officer and his missing wife. If there's any connection it is not evident.
June 6, 2013
I really love how Jacques Audiard makes movies, The way he cares about details as a viewer with the subjective close-shot. The fellow of the movie is very smooth, it's like there was no blocking and staging during the shooting. The character progression and how Carla ( Emmanuelle Devos ) changes during the movie are established perfectly, the need to change shows with 2-3 scenes. This is a second movie I saw this week that used sound effect greatly to help the story, but in this movie with not having any sound in some parts. Overall, the movie is about relation between Carla and Paul and how they influence each other...with the surprise and suspense in the plot, enjoyable movie.
December 6, 2012
A romantic thriller that do everything opposite to what Hollywood would do.
Laura B.
November 13, 2012
Good indie drama. Enjoyed the plot and the chemistry between the protagonists.
November 12, 2012
viewed on 14/9/04

I was feeling frustrated watching this. The main plot and the subplots did not seem to promise a neat closure. I was about to give up on this psycho-sexual thriller when in the final 15 minutes or so, everything just fell into place. It has a satisfactory wrap-up. Nothing really feels forced. It turns to be a rather smart heist film.

I can see the potential of turning this into a Hollywood box office hit.

Rating: B
Expected Rating: B
October 27, 2012
Vincent fucking Cassel
lucy w.
October 7, 2012
A superb thriller, with excellent performances by Devos and Cassel. The chemistry between those two is so growingly palpable that, in the end, it's almost explosive. Devos' character is remarkably well done; her complexity, her shyness, her longings, etc, are very compelling, thanks to he direction and sound design, which are able to show to us her "world". I really recommend it.
September 17, 2012
Great performances all around and a slow second act (and thriller typical third act) away from being an amazing character piece.
August 18, 2012
Everything is so subtle and elegantly paced
April 15, 2012
Beware of spoilers !!!
A somewhat awkward ending makes this movie no more than just bearable to watch. Two hours of plotline development were enough to develop very deep and interesting characters, but apparently not for us, the viewers, to understand what's going on with parole officer's wife, why Carla stayed in the closet during Paul's execution, how did the pub keeper killed two nasty looking guys with a knife only and so on...
October 10, 2011
not as good as a Prophet, but Read My Lips is an interesting film that benefits a lot of Audiard's direction. Also, Vincent Cassel is arguably the best actor of the past 15 years.
Mike L.
May 15, 2011
Unexpected masterpiece. Nice to see how director enjoy the process, work with details and add new layers to make overall impression even better.
March 7, 2011
at the start i was getting the impression that delving deep into its leads was going to be paramount in this film but then crime-drama took over.
Jack L.
July 9, 2010
Read my Lips is a unique and stunningly original French film directed by Jacques Audiard who directed A Prophet and who is now one of my favourite directors. This film is very original and I was surprised to see that not one of my friends here on RT had rated it.

The film begins with Karla inserting her hearing aids to allow her to hear enough to carry out her job. She works in an office job for an Architectural firm, her job isn't going anywhere and she is bullied and mocked by her co-workers, she is very lonely.
She asks for an assistant to aid her in her work, but also so she can get to know someone new.
Her assistant is named Paul Angelie and they get on well together despite both of them being very awkward. Paul tells her he has just been released from prison and is attempting to start over. Karla wishes to help him and so lets him stay in an apartment under construction by the firm. A romance gradually builds between the two even if Karla is very timid, she is obviously in love with Paul.
When Paul is threatened by some thugs he owes money to he is forced to give up his job with Karla and work in the nightclub owned by the mobster he owes money to.
He soon catches on to the fact that the mobster is planning a big heist and starts to formulate a plan to steal the money from right under the nose of the mobster. His plan is changed dramatically when he learns that Karla (who misses him and barely ever sees him) can read lips, she learnt this skill when she was younger and entirely deaf over time her hearing had healed enough for her to hear but she had kept the skill of lip-reading. Paul then uses her to watch the boss's apartment and record the conversations held within so he can know when the money arrives. Karla accepts on the condition that Paul come back and work with her at her office during the day. Paul accepts thus beginning a hectic lifestyle for the two that has them working all day at the office and watching the apartment all night.
When the money finally does arrive things are complicated even more and after various twists and turns a surprising conclusion is reached.

The direction by Audiard was stunningly original and inventive. He used many of the same techniques that he would use in his latest film A Prophet such as the shots of complete darkness with only a small circle of light illuminating what is taking place in the film. I also liked his use of extreme close ups was very inventive, instead of useing them in moments of calm he employed them during very tense action scenes , it was a risky choice but he achieved his purpose very well and it creates an incredible effect, it really adds to the tension of the scenes.

The acting was amazing by the two leads, Emanuelle Devos as Karla and Vincent Cassel as Paul. The rest of the cast did a good job but nothing spectacular apart from Paul's case officer, he was very good. As good as the supporting cast was they were completely eclipsed by Cassel and Devos, they both bring their characters to life in such a way that it's impossible not to like them. Without such great actors this film would have been much less as a whole even with the excellent direction.

The characters were the best thing about this film, they were so well written and so well acted that it was a pleasure watching them interact. The transformation of Karla is extraordinary, in the beginning of the film she was depressed, lonely, meek and overall pretty pitiable. By the end of the film she has accomplished many things including going head to head with some ruthless mobsters, something she would never have dreamed of doing before.
Paul is a very interesting man who wishes to make his fortune by whatever means necessary and flee the country. His prison sentence has made him into a clever and cautious criminal with no scruples. He falls in love with Karla but you get the sense that if he had to flee without her and with the money he would.

The sound of this film is a much more important aspect than on other film, because of Karla's condition, Jacques Audiard uses the sound very well, it waxes and wanes as Karla adjusts her hearing aid. It is all very well thought of and I got the sense that far more attention had been paid to it than is usual in films. The music is sparse but good and complemented the films rather dark atmosphere very well.
The dialogue is in French, of course, and I strongly recommend you watch it in it's original language as the dialogue is extremely well written and just can't be translated very well. The dialogue avoids all romantic clichés with ease and is highly original and very French.

The plot was surprisingly well handled, the film starts out as a Romance, and a very interesting and watchable one at that, and seamlessly develops into a Thriller involving a large amount of money and ruthless enemies. I thought this transition was done very well and could have ended up seeming like two different films in the hands of a lesser director. I liked the fact that seemingly unimportant events and conversations that take place at the beginning of the film have repercussions later and dramatically change the story. The endings took me completely by surprise, it wasn't a complicated twist or anything just a rather unpredictable endings handled very well by the writers and the director.

Overall this is a sadly overlooked French film, that deserves much more attention as does the director who is very talented yet largely unknown.

Highly recommended to anyone looking for a clever Thriller, but also for those who ,like me, don't like the usual Romance films but something a bit more original.
Chris D.
September 21, 2009
Well, what can I say having just watched this fantastic film, when my nerves are still jangling!
Jacques Audiard the director must be making quite a name for himself in France, and rightly so.
Vince Cassel is no Tom Cruise and Emmanuelle Devos is no Penelope Cruz either, but these two are fantastic actors, and this is a taut and compelling thriller which starts off slowly with some clever character building and then starts to put tension on tension to a wonderful climax. Others have written about the plot, so I will not say more than everyone in this film plays their role to perfection, the director, the actors, right down to the cameraman, and everything seems so real, no stupid gunplay, the fighting when it happens is so credible, the expressions, the emotions, it is almost as you are there as a spectator.
Do yourself a favour, get the DVD, a bottle of wine, turn the lights low, take the phone off the hook and immerse yourself in this Hitchcockian thriller :)
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