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By Michael Ferraro | May 24, 2005

“Look At Me” is a story about four characters, two of which were designed for the purpose of audience sympathy. The other two are the foul and self-centered type; the only thing they really care about themselves. Sadly, too much focus is spent on showing character traits that any kind of coherent story or compassion for characters is destroyed.

The film’s main focus is on the tumultuous relationship of a father, Etienne, and his somewhat overweight daughter, Lolita. Lolita yearns for nothing other than getting any kind of attention from her father, but Etienne is just too busy focusing on his young wife, a new child, and most of all, himself. Scene after tiresome scene shows this. Even more so, we are exposed to watching Lolita try a countless number of times to get her father’s attention. Too bad Agnes Jaoui didn’t try a little harder to get the audiences attention.

Lolita also has to deal with people constantly using her to get to her father, since Etienne is a famous novelist. Her boyfriends stay with her until they get to her father, and even her chorus teacher (chorus being the thing she strives at most) has doubts about her skill until the day she discovers her father’s trade.

All of these topics would have worked so much more if the film didn’t drown in them. The audience, especially the type that would actually be seeking out a French film, can handle subtleties more than a mainstream audience. “Look At Me” has so many characters but after a short while, due to the fact that none of them are really that different, they seem to merge into one giant personality.

The rest of the story focuses on Lolita’s chorus teacher, Sylvia, and her unpopular novelist of a husband, Pierre. Pierre has that typical character arc that begins with him as a carefree writer that knows fame will probably never come his way, yet when it does, he accepts it with open arms, giving more attention to his new found fans (meaning younger females) than to his wife.

It’s almost set up for the audience that you should feel for Sylvia, since her husband is practically disbanding from her, yet you can’t help but think she kind of deserves it. She used Lolita to get to Etienne, who in turn, helped Pierre get some notoriety in the publishing world.

Everyone in this film wants to be loved and wants attention but they all go about it the wrong way. Perhaps that is the point of this picture, to show the audience that honesty is a better option. If that was indeed the case, why were we enveloped by too much character development? If that element was worked on, and some of the minor characters – like Lolita’s new motiveless boyfriend or Etienne’s faithful assistant that sticks by him no matter what – the film would have worked so much better.

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