209. Sur Mes Lèvres (France 2002)

director: Jacques Audiard

Starring: Emmanuelle Devos, Vincent Cassell, Olivier Gourmet

Fact: None worth knowing

Lie: Casell considers himself the best actor in the French-speaking world. He believes he is the 'king' or 'roi' of French film and insists on the other actors referring to him as 'Roi Cassell'.


An ex-con uses a partially-deaf woman's lip-reading skills to gain revenge.

Emmanuel Devos plays Carla, a plain looking (according to the script, that is. I would, despite the Dick Emery-vicar teeth)  office worker who has been passed over for promotion in favour of her boorish male colleagues.

Without her hearing aid, Carla is deaf.

After fainting at work, she is allowed to employ an assistant to help her with routine office-junior type work.

Paul (Cassell)  is fresh out of prison and knows nothing of office work. He 'chances his arm' at Carla's interview to avoid having to do the 'shitty jobs' expected of one in his position. Carla immediately susses him out, but takes him on because she experiences empathy based on her own outsider status.

Carla's co-workers are secretly scathing about Carla and Paul. As they eat lunch, Carla lip-reads their conversations and tells Paul that they are referring to her as a 'dog' and that she is lucky to be finding solace with her unkempt friend.


Sample Dialogue (A)                                                                                                

Paul: Carla, what are zose fellows, 'ow you say, sayeeng about urse?             

Carla: They're saying I'm no oil paintin', but you're one fuckin' bad meff, lad.

Paul: Zat ees what I am seenking zay are sayeeng.

Sample Dialogue (B)

Paul: Carla, 'oo eez zat Austrian Formula 1 driveur from ze seven-tees?

Carla: Lauda.

Paul: I sayde: 'oo eez zat Austrian Formula 1 driveur from ze seven-tees?

Carla: Lauda!

Paul: (shouting) I sayde: 'oo eez zat Austrian Formula 1 driveur from ze seven-tees?

Carla: Fucking Lauda!

Paul: (top of voice)  'oo eez ze fucking Austrian Formula 1 driveur from ze seven-tees?

Carla: Lauda! Are you fuckin' stupid or what?

Paul: (quiet) Deaf crrnnt.

Carla: Wanker.

Carla and Paul offer each other mutual assistance. Paul uses his 'street skills' to help Carla achieve promotion. Carla uses her lip reading skills to help Paul steal the ill-gotten gains of vicious gangster Marchent (Gourmet*) who is leaning heavily on the taciturn, but essentially decent ex-con after beating him up for failing to pay his debts.

Sur Mes Lèvres degenerates into a series of highly unlikely happenings, but is worth watching for the outstanding acting of its two main leads. Cassell is superb (as ever), but he is marginally eclipsed by the brilliant Devos.

St V's Practical Sex Tips: Number One

*Talking of the word 'Gourmet' reminds me of a handy sex tip that occurred to me whilst watching the famous 'Gourmet Night' episode of Fawlty Towers. If you're going at it hammer and tongs and are scared of losing your mess before your partner has reached fulfilment, a good way of 'pulling on the reigns' is to think of  Ann Way, the strange and diminutive actress who plays the wife of local dignitary, Colonel Hall.

Remember though, that this must only be done for a moment. Prolonged 'thinking about Ann Way' can lead to permanent erectile dysfunction.

Ann Way. Boing!!!! Urghh! Urgh! Urgh! It's not working!

Sur Mes Levres: 7.5/10