My favourite comedy scripts manage to use both the dialogue and situations as effective sources of comedy, a balance which ROLLING INTO YOU exemplifies. I’ll readily admit that the film’s premise sounds flimsy (a ladies’ man pretending to be paraplegic to score a date), though in practice Dubosc’s years of experience with the genre allow him to stick the landing of this tricky setup. For instance, although his character, Jocelyn’s, penchant for deception is obvious from the opening sequence, his latest ruse thankfully comes together by accident rather than deliberate plotting: as Jocelyn sits in his (recently deceased) mother’s wheelchair, an attractive new neighbour starts a conversation and, quite reasonably, assumes he’s handicapped. The scene not only delighted me with its sheer absurdity, but gives Dubosc free reign to show off his mastery of comedic facial expressions and slapstick timing. Meanwhile, whether Jocelyn is being chastised by one of the film’s many voices of reason (pretty much anyone who knows what he’s up to) or out on a date trying to impress, the witty banter and awkwardly-timed remarks are on par with any big-budget Hollywood comedy if not better; his best friend Max is a proctologist, just for some idea of how wonderfully crass things get.
ROLLING INTO YOU is also remarkably successful at dealing with a common rom-com issue: it’s bad to base relationships on a lie. Jocelyn’s love interest ultimately isn’t the hot neighbour mentioned earlier, but her sister Florence (Alexandra Lamy), who is actually paraplegic. Subsequently, his deceit is never pushed into the background or seen as justified for the sake of a budding romance; in fact, I can’t remember another rom-com that constantly forced a protagonist to consider the morals of their actions in such a realistic way. Dubosc’s effortless charm naturally helps viewers understand his personal and professional successes, yet I became most invested in his character when watching
Jocelyn process the latest way he’d let Florence down. The script likewise deserves recognition for the pitch-perfect pace of Florence’s development, leaving just enough mystery with each new interest or piece of wisdom revealed to make us look forward to seeing her again. It’s once again standard rom- com procedure for one half of a couple to be extroverted and contrast the other’s subtler charm, yet Dubosc and Lamy’s performances are so emblematic of why this approach works well that it simply doesn’t matter. Watching their sparks fly doesn’t just look pretty, it feels warm and fuzzy like the best romances should.
Thus, ROLLING INTO YOU is the rare rom-com that excels at both halves of its genre. With a perfect pair of leading performances and a nuanced take on admittedly tricky subject matter, this film above all signals the arrival of a bona fide auteur in Franck Dubosc, and I can’t wait to see what he delivers next.