Angelique (Audrey Tautou) goes into a florist's and asks to buy a single red rose - and get it delivered, which is against the policy of the shop, but she is so charming that the owner is easily persuaded. She is in love with a cardiologist named Loic (Samuel Le Bihan) who has a swanky practice in the city, he's rich, he's handsome... he's married. But Angelique is convinced she can coax him away from his wife, as he has already offered plenty of evidence to her that it is she who he loves more than anyone. It's just that his wife is a lawyer, and a good one, and that may prove an impediment to their happiness, but then, the course of true love never did run smooth...
This was the feature debut of writer-director Laetitia Colombani, one of two films she made before deciding to pen novels instead, and it gained interest thanks to appearing at the height of Audrey Tautou's fame as the most adorable Frenchwoman on the planet. Even now, she is inseparable from her image as Amelie, the too cute for words protagonist of one of the most successful French comedies of all time, so it's clear she had two options at the start of the millennium: appear in fluff that capitalised on that image, or take the opportunities she was getting to work in something that played with that persona in interesting ways. As it turned out, she more or less did both.
He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (known as À la folie... pas du tout originally) was possibly the most subversive thing she could have done at that point short of starring as a serial killer, but you wouldn't know it for the first half hour or so of the film. It's difficult to discuss why without giving the game away, and needless to say this was a story that was better going in to it not knowing what it was about other than a romance was involved, and for that reason there's a chance it was overpraised at the time of its release, since Angelique was such a twist on the wacky girl in love trope that seemed obvious in retrospect, but clichés had rendered it more of a surprise.
Now, post-Gone Girl, viewers may be watching this and wondering, "What is it you're not telling us?", with good reason. It was true that Colombani was unable to keep her secrets for as long as she might have liked, because the revelation was telegraphed rather more clearly than it was perhaps wise, though perhaps she was counting on audiences indulging in a repeat watch to see where they had been led astray. Nevertheless, it was possible to be fooled on one hand, and possible to suss something was up on the other, especially when Tautou and Le Bihan did not interact very much for that first half, mostly going by passing notes and sending flowers and gifts. It's largely when you note those flowers and gifts are exclusively one-way traffic that the alarm bells start to ring, and this relationship is not too healthy.
Indeed, if it is a relationship at all, and not something that was playing out in a more abusive manner. Even then, Colombani was leading you up the garden path, so what she did was stop the action at the halfway point, just when things were looking bleak, and rewind the film, literally: the scene pauses, runs backwards and we zoom through what we have already seen to visit it from the angle of this apparently not so great doctor, who we have been led to believe may be something of a heel, or at best, would not leave his pregnant wife Rachel (Isabelle Carré) for his mistress. But there's more to it, and the obsession angle that raises all sorts of questions - why not go to the police if there's a stalker making your life a misery, for example - is carefully picked out to make it obvious that if you do not know the whole story, there's not much you can do without sounding like a nutter, and that shame factor is precisely what your victimiser will be counting on to prolong the torture until it's too late. Not a romance, then. More a thriller. Music by Jérôme Coullet.