The Feelings Factory




BERLIN -- Jean-Marc Moutout's film "La Fabrique des Sentiments" probably needs a better English title than "The Feelings Factory," but the emotions on display in his film do seem manufactured. Not that you can't identify with the loneliness of its heroine, a single and successful professional woman faced with a rotten love life and a serious illness.

Yet there is something very generic and artificial about these problems. They have been handed to this character straight off the assembly line in order for Moutout to explore the theme of modern-day loneliness. But they never belong to her.

The film, a little too much in love with its sense of irony for its own good, acutely observes the daily life and inner frustrations of its heroine. Yet it comes away with little insight into this area of human love relations that so many filmmakers have picked over so many times before. Brief theatrical engagements in French-speaking territories could lead to European cable deals.

Eloise (Elsa Zylberstein) is a thirtysomething property attorney in Paris who is determined to jump-start her social life. She turns to a speed-dating club. Thus, two men enter her life, but she doesn't seem a whole lot better for these encounters.

She also suffers dizzy spells, which sends her to a specialist who finally diagnoses a serious but curable malady. This illness serves a metaphorical purpose as well but, again, this feels arbitrary and, well, manufactured.

The woman really shouldn't be having all these troubles. In social situations, she handles herself well enough. She is pretty and does not lack confidence. Nor does her professional life seem to hinder her establishing a caring relationship with a man. Moutout just keeps piling things on poor Eloise.

The film lacks a sense of humor, which any film about speed-dating and troubled sex lives most certainly needs. Moutout, who wrote the script with Olivier Gorce and Agnes de Sacy, doesn't make you terribly interested in Eloise's woes either. Then he chooses to end the film on a note that feels false, as though he gave in to a happy ending but his heart just wasn't in it.

Visually, the film lacks pizzazz. Even a dream sequence in a chamber of desires looks dull and depleted of life.

Les Films de Losange/Need Prods./Elefilm/France 2 Cinema/RTBF
Director: Jean-Marc Moutout
Screenwriters: Jean-Marc Moutout, Olivier Gorce, Agnes de Sacy
Producer: Margaret Menegoz, Regine Vial
Director of photography: Claude Garnier
Production designer: Jerome Pouvaret
Music: Silvain Vanot
Costume designer: Lorette Meus
Editor: Marie-Helene Mora
Eloise: Elsa Zylberstein
Andre: Jacques Bonnaffe
Jean-Luc: Bruno Putzulu
Prof. Sterne: Hiam Abbass
Marie: Anne-Katerine Normant

Running time -- 97 minutes
No MPAA rating