Affairs of the heart and loins, and the rapidly changing state of the publishing field in the digital age become the dominant — and occasionally domineering — touchpoints of this shamelessly talky (aka French) but wickedly fun number, from writer-director Olivier Assayas. Alain (Guillame Canet) is a publisher, an ostensibly suave bourgeois figure and spouse of Selena (the ever-magnetic Juliette Binoche), playing cat-and-mouse with a bohemian “auto-fiction” writer Leonard (Vincent Macaigne), who admits to writing “feel-bad books,” and whose pretensions lead Alain to say “your radicality is no less narcissistic” than that of others.
Much is read between the script’s furious flow of lines, which can sometimes seem to nudge the film to the verge of melodrama. But it keeps retreating in a blur of ideas, as well as bitchy intellectual conversation and speculation on, for example, existential matters, the volatile book market, and who’s zooming who. Beneath the surface buzz of chatter and bedroom antics, its clear that the filmmakers are having ironic-insider fun with the piece, as when Leonard mentions excitedly that has asked Juliette Binoche to read a book on tape, a connection made by his wife, played by… Juliette Binoche.