God Is Great, I'm Not

on November 06, 2002 by Ed Scheid
"God is Great, I'm Not," a comedy invigorated by the natural charm of Audrey Tautou, was made before the release of her extremely successful breakout film, "Amelie." Here, Tautou plays Michele, a 20-year-old model who is extremely despondent after an abortion following a breakup with her boyfriend. Feeling insignificant, she seeks religion to bring meaning into her life. Not getting solace in Catholicism, she tries Buddhism. When she becomes romantically involved with Francois (Edouard Baer) a veterinarian, she inquires about his religion. Finding out that that he's a non-practicing Jew, Michele turns to Orthodox Judaism with determined fervor. Though sincere, her enthusiasm as she moves between different religions resembles the pursuit of the latest fad. Francois joins Michele in taking a class on Judaism, and even his parents become involved in Michele's conversion. At times, Francois becomes overwhelmed by Michele's intensity. Michele's childlike nature is reflected in her diary entries that introduce scenes of the film.

   Director Pascale Bailly, who co-wrote the screenplay, is an admirer of Woody Allen, and her film shares Allen's preoccupation with religion (as in "Hannah and her Sisters") and the neurotic undercurrent to personal relationships. As in many French comedies, Bailly adds serious elements, like the painful emotional aftereffects of Michele's abortion and the relationship with her unhappy mother and stepfather.

   With youthful high spirits, Tautou remains captivating throughout Michele's religious and romantic quests, and she is backed by a likable cast. Bailly is more successful with the amusing and eccentric details of her characters than with the thin plot of her film. Michele's love life is a predictable series of arguments, break-ups and reconciliations held together only by Tautou's magnetic presence. Starring Audrey Tautou, Edouard Baer and Julie Depardieu. Directed by Pascale Bailly. Written by Pascale Bailly and Alain Tasma. Produced by Alain Sarde and Georges Benayoun. An Empire release. Comedy. French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 98 min

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