What I Watched: Un Peu, Beaucoup, Aveuglément (Blind Date)
He. She. The wall between them. Un Peu, Beaucoup, Aveuglément, or Blind Date (the English title), is the strangest and oddly most endearing threesome a French cinematic romantic comedy has yet to see. He’s an introverted reclusive inventor who requires constant silence. She’s an accomplished young pianist trying to make her big break. When she moves into a darling chambre de bonne to emancipate herself from the emotionally controlling and abusive clutches of her piano teacher, this meek pianist (Mélanie Bernier) soon discovers that whether she likes it or not, she has an informal roommate- the antisocial inventor (Clovis Cornillac) who also shares the paper-thin wall that adjoins their building and apartments.
The inventor is less than pleased to receive any new neighbors who might disrupt his genius, nonetheless a pianist who likely requires regular practice. In an effort to spook the pianist into relocating, he concocts a plan to trick her into believing the apartment is haunted with rigged shenanigans. She temporarily falls for his pranks but soon enough realizes her new neighbor’s schemes. A war of egos ensues, but through the wall the two ultimately agree that neither intends to leave and that a regulated noise schedule is the best compromise given their peculiar situation.
For a while, their scheduled arrangement works. The pianist rehearses during her designated time slots, and when she’s not rehearsing, the inventor is guaranteed the silence he needs to work and create. However, during one scheduling snafu, the inventor and pianist start to form a romance, even though they have no idea what the other looks like.
They decide this is the perfect romantic arrangement- a loving, committed relationship without the pesky burden of ever having to physically deal with one another. Their romance suits his reclusiveness as well as her shy demeanor. Through the wall, he teaches her cooking. She plays the piano. They have dinner dates. They enjoy the fun of dating without ever actually meeting one another.
Can their relationship survive with an actual wall between them?
One of the subtly brilliant details of Blind Date is that we actually don’t ever learn the main characters’ names. They refer to each other simply as machin (masculine) and machine (feminine), which is French slang roughly translating to ‘thingy’ in English. In the context of this film, which promotes the ideology that personality is key in choosing a romantic partner, machin is the perfect choice pet name for this couple.
As the audience, we automatically form a bond with these characters, merely because we’ve chosen to follow their romantic story. Regardless, their names matter little. I was still cheering for them during the entire film. In machin and machine’s case, they at first connect without physicality. In the audience’s case, we connect to machin and machine without knowing the most basic information- their names. In essence, that’s the point of Blind Date– that we can still feel connected to one another without needing to have all of the information.
Looks Don’t Matter… Or Do They?
The subplot of Blind Date supports the adage that looks don’t matter through machin’s best friend Artus (Philippe Duquesne), and machine’s sister, Charlotte (Lilou Fogli). Charlotte is in a loveless marriage and finds herself chasing sexual infidelity as it’s her portal to the physical intimacy she desperately needs but lacks in her own marriage. Unlike her sister’s relationship, Charlotte’s marriage is fractured because of the metaphorical wall between her and her husband. That somewhat changes one night when she’s introduced to Artus through her sister’s wall. Charlotte and Artus flirt, joke, and without having any knowledge of Artus’ and his disheveled appearance, Charlotte is still noticeably interested.
Inevitably, can a relationship survive without physical presence? I suppose that depends on the individual. In machin and machine’s situation, they inevitably decide the importance of physicality in their relationship, even though in the beginning it didn’t matter. However, their original arrangement is really no different from two people having an exclusively online relationship, or something of similar nature. While I would agree that for me, personality is definitely the most important factor in finding the right mate, physical intimacy is also a necessity- hugging, snuggling, and holding hands. Regardless, Blind Date adorably contradicts society’s hackneyed ideology that physicality is of utmost importance in a romantic relationship. Machin and Machine’s quirky romance will inspire all the warm and fuzzies!
À la prochaine.