'Blind Date' - Review (Netflix)
I watch, so you may not have to.
When a young, shy pianist, (Mélanie Bernier) moves into an apartment, living away from home for the first time, she finds that she is neighbours with a curmudgeonly inventor (Clovis Cornillac), who tries to scare her out of her apartment with an elaborate scam, moving objects and a scary soundscape he has set up, so as to deter anyone from taking the apartment.
After going out with her sister, Charlotte (Lilou Fogli), to celebrate her new home, she returns home, and is scared witless by her neighbour’s ruse. She goes to stay with her old piano teacher and partner, the fastidious and snooty, Evguenie (Grégoire Oestermann). He sneers at her inability to survive even one night alone. She tells him she will leave the next day.
The neighbour’s only friend, Artus (Phillipe Duquesne), is the only person who he sees, and talks to on a regular basis. The neighbour is obsessed with completing a complex game he has been working on for seven years. Artus tells him he is just avoiding life.
The pianist returns. The neighbour tries to scare her again, but the pianist grabs the painting he is moving, forcing him to admit he is behind the happenings. He explains that he needs silence to work, and the nature of the building means that they will always be able to hear one another, and that she should move. She wants to compromise, and work out a schedule. He refuses, and a war of attrition begins, with both doing the utmost to annoy one another.
When she finally breaks his spirit, by using a metronome, he agrees to a schedule. One evening, when she is playing, he is unable to help himself and critiques her approach. She plays better than she has ever played. After that, they begin to form a relationship, communicating without ever seeing one another, nor even exchanging names. He calls her Machine, and she calls him Machin.
Their relationship flourishes, even though they remain separated by the wall. Machine tries to tell her sister about Machin, but Charlotte, who is married with two teenage daughters, just tells her about her latest conquest, barely listening to Machine.
Artus tries to get more business for Machin, whilst simultaneously getting out of the house, it does not go well. Machine invites a man who she thinks is Machin, back to her apartment, but when she hears Machin returning home, she realises that it is the wrong man and kicks him out.
Machin invites her over for a drink, but after her encounter with the wrong man, Machine decides it is better for their relationship to remain as it is. They agree. They become closer, and decide to have the most unconventional dinner party.
Machine invites Charlotte over, and Machin, Artus. They have a dinner party separated by the wall. At first, Artus and Charlotte go along only for love for their friends, family, but as the evening unfolds, they find that they really enjoy the experience.
Evguenie comes to see Machine, and critiques her playing, apartment, and generally belittles her, much to Machin’s disgust. Machin meddles and embarrasses Evguenie, though he is not seen. Machine, only days away from her recital, is furious, and refuses to speak to Machin after his interference.
When Charlotte uses Machine’s apartment for a conquest, Machin, not knowing it was Charlotte, goes into a jealous rage. Machine tells him that they are not working, and that their most unconventional relationship is over. Machin goes to see Artus. Artus tells him off, and reminds him that it has been seven years since the love of his life died. This is his second chance.
Machine has her audition, and it is going badly. Machin, who is hiding behind the curtain, urges her to play like he knows she can, even as he is being removed by security. Machine impresses at the audition. She meets Artus for the first time, as does Charlotte. Machin is not there. Charlotte leaves with Artus.
Machine returns to her apartment, and talks to Machin. He breaks through the wall, and they meet properly for the first time. The end.
Blind Date or Un Peu, beaucoup, aveuglément! To give it its original French title, is an engaging comedy that is about the power of communication. With the two central characters not coming face to face until the final five minutes of the film, the chemistry between the two leads was of paramount importance.
Luckily, in Bernier and Cornillac, they have a couple of actors who commit to their roles and the premise so convincingly that you never question the silliness of the story.
The two leads are ably supported by Fogli, and especially Duquesne as the amiable Artus. They are the anchor to reality in the film, allowing the farfetched premise to flourish. Written by two of the stars, Fogli and Cornillac, who are husband and wife, the duo fashioned a sweet and amusing script, which Cornillac also directs.
The music, which is a big part of the film, is wholly complementary to the story. Not only the piano parts, but the incidental music as well. The film looks lovely, with the apartments reflecting the characters of each person: Machin’s a little dark and busy, with all areas devoted to some sort of work. Machine’s apartment is light and bright, but a little chaotic, her piano the most important item in the home.
Ultimately it is the central relationship between Machine and Machin, separated by a wall, that carries the film. Blind Date is a nice little film to devote ninety minutes of your weekend to. A joy.