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On “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” And The Terrors Of Obsession

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Obsession. What the hell might it all boil down to, anyway?

An over-priced aftershave, yes. A fella throwing stones at a lady’s window a few years ago for to recite lyrics at five o’clock in the morning, yes. Nights spent lost in the tiny bump on a muse’s thigh, owing to a tumble a many moons past, yes. Eyes alive with terror and also giddy lust every time a lass walks past and takes the time for to smile in the right direction, yes.

Obsession. The Duke knows a thing or two about it all, is the truth of the facts of the case.

Seventy-nine sonnets a night for the object of one’s sticky notions, yes. Entire narratives, an epic saga spread cross forty-two volumes, a sci-fi opus concerning a colony of elves living in Connor Oberst’s fringe, yes. A re-write of Paradise Lost concerning the intricacies of Pete Doherty’s delightful hat, yes.

Obsession. A ballad about a tennis ball signed by Her sweet hand.

(And what of Self-Obsession? A burning desire for to catalogue in great detail every beat of one’s blood-pump, irregular or otherwise, every hand that gets said blood-pump high on notions of beating along to a song she might wanna hear. Every thought thunk in anger or jest, documented, and the lines blurred. Was he hurtin’, was he jokin’, does it matter?

No, self-obsession has nothing to do with this article, which, rather, lends its paragraphs to the obsession one might hold for an external entity; i.e., a lass with a savage smile, or with long black hair save for a couple strands of burning red, or for the recorded works of Babyshambles and so on and so forth.)

Fuck my eyes, though, there ain’t no need to worry about a damn thing that ain’t got anything to do with the following;

What you need to realize, see, is that this all relates to a French picture by the name of He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, or, indeed, À la folie… pas du tout, in which Laetitia Colombani explores the notion of Obsession with the assistance of Audrey Tautou and her fantastic smile, eyes and so on.

Stood outside a DVD emporium not so long ago, Sir Fleming, head of Mondo Guerrilla Marketing, he approaches The Duke, the infectious grin of the damned on his face, a DVD clutched in trembling hand.

“Take this”, he demands. “Marvelous!”

What it turns out to be is nothing less than the aforementioned motion picture concerning Audrey and her Obsessions.

I dare say Sir Fleming wouldn’t have it any other way, I dare say he’d go tartan with incomprehension if I left out the following information;

Recently, Sir Fleming has become ensnared by Audrey’s smile, eyes, hair and such. Suddenly no amount of Audrey can ever be enough. Suddenly DVD’s are ordered from the most remote tribal colonies scattered cross the globe, all in the hope of catching Audrey in a hitherto undiscovered floral dress.

It turns out his deep affection for Audrey is comparable to my own boundless worship with regards Kirsten. Just as The Duke will weep in light of the beauty pouring from out Deeply or Lover’s Prayer or Spider-Man 2, so Sir Fleming will presumably sit awe-struck as Dirty Pretty Things or Amelie caresses his skull-blobs.

And true, who could fail to be ensnared by the delights of Amelie, a motion flick which caused The Duke and plenty lesser critics to mouth accolades along the lines of “A picture I dare say a fella could bathe in for a decade and come out smelling only of the desire to bathe anew!”

But Sir Fleming’s appreciation goes far beyond such common triviality.

(Note – Perhaps Sir Fleming’s feelings towards Audrey, or The Duke’s with regards Kirsten, might be equated with the types of obsession catalogued at the outset?)

(Note – No. Obsessions are something to be, for the most part, approached with caution. The Duke’s selfless admiration of Kirsten, of Her dimples, Her hands, Her smile and the like, this is something akin to the admiration Michelangelo may have felt for God’s finger when he was painting the roof of yonder chapel.)

So a trade was made, and upon receipt of GG Allin – Savage South 1992, Sir Fleming parts momentarily with He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.


Sir Fleming knows full well that even though, in The Duke’s eyes, Mona Lisa Smile is possibly the most beautiful motion picture about Kirsten is a pupil at a strict boarding school to ever have been etched in celluloid, I would never expect him to see it in such a light.

Similarly, however agreeable I find Audrey, there is every chance in the world I would balk myself in two where I to be presented with a good number of her works.

So when this motion-flick comes to reside for a time beside the DVD Player, I have every reason to assume that it is the cinematic merit, as opposed to simply the presence of Audrey in the feature, that has led to such developments.

“Oh by fuck’s whiskers!” says a rent-boy’s been sitting on my sofa for the past two hours, “Get to the point, for the love of god. Was it any bastard good?”

I nod, say about “Hmm. Very.” He doesn’t hear, though, engrossed as he is in the act of gluing thousands of playing cards together in the likeness of a long-forgotten deity blessed with a thirst for fathomless depravity.

(“Who is it?”, is what The Duke enquires. “Fucked if I know”, comes the response, “but I bet He’d be awake for a month if He caught sight of my thighs”)

The critical truth of the matter is that yeah, pretty much He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is wonderful.

A fella finds himself constrained, however, by the fairly devious plot mechanics utilized therein, finds that every attempt to provide some sort of synopsis, however fleeting, is rendered futile on account of the fucking thing is eaten alive by spoiler moths the second my hands touch key.

Myself and the fella dressed up like Harry Potter, with one hand holding the book about The Half-Bred Princess or whatever and the other thrusting a 9mm ‘gainst The Skull De Duke, we both tend to shy from any writing pertaining to a work of Popular Culture that, consciously or not, fucks the viewing / reading / listening experience asunder on account of carelessly flinging plot details left and right.

Oooh, it was a sled, oooh, he was his mum, oooh, the robot was really a plant.

Potter won’t let me even consider telling you about the twists He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not employs throughout. Every time I go to say a damn thing about “*******mania” he pushes that steel that bit harder gainst my flesh, gets to muttering about “Spoilers, motherfucker, you spill an ounce I’ll spill your skull cross this keyboard.”

But at some point a man has to throw his hands in the air like not only does he care, but also, he cares enough to challenge the fucker with the lightening scar and the hand-cannon. What I say is something along the lines of I must offer at least a couple sentences to the plot, for God’s sakes, and also, if you get one inch closer, Potter, I’m gonna pot a couple knuckles upside your kidney.

Potter sees sense. He says “I see sense.”

And so what occurs is that The Duke carefully, choosing every word via a selection process involving factories in Kuwait and an opium plantation in Sydney Harbor, says something along the lines of;

“What He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is all about, is that Audrey plays an art student by the name of Angélique, a lass destined for no end of critical adulation, on account of her paintings are spectacular. Most of these paintings involve representations of Loïc, a cardiologist who has apparently been engaging Audrey in a bout of the old extra-marital filthing. Married, and worse, soon to be a father, Loïc nonetheless appears to be infatuated with our brown-eyed heroine.

Except no-one seems to be terribly sure that things are all as wonderful as Angélique might like to believe. How come Loïc shows next to no interest in her? How come he still smiles and kisses his wife with the kinda genuine adoration not many folks could successfully fake? (Although, granted, actor Samuel Le Bihan has obviously mastered the art)

Is he being a nasty ol’ shit, leading our Audrey on, or is Audrey all fucked-up in the mentals, obsessing over a fella who can hardly be blamed for her love / lust / soakingness?”

Potter nods approvingly. “That’ll do, pig.”

So you can see, I dare say, how He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not might invite any amount of musings concerning the nature of Obsession, of Unrequitement. It exaggerates the horrors of it all, twists the plot in all sortsa gasp-arousing directions, with the effect being that Audrey’s situation comes to close to instilling the kinda deep-rooted unease that the abundance of either obsession or unrequitement in the day-to-day unceasingly flings at a fella’s form.

It’s like in Buffy Season Two when she’s in love with Angel, but holy shit, what happens when it comes to a head is that the motherfucking fate of humanity is endangered. We get caught up in it all not necessarily because we’re scared in the slightest by a buncha shitty CGI and some reasonably diverting face-morph tomfoolery, but because the emotional weight of it all rings true.

I know, Buffy, is what The Duke got to shouting. When relationships fell to garbled fuck in high school, it was the fucking end of all humanity. I ain’t never done fucked a fella turned out to be a vampire beast blighted by some curse or other from down the ages, but I did pine for a girl for much of fourth and fifth year, and then next thing I know, at the very point when, Hollywood Narratives would suggest, lips would lock to a swelling score, possibly a Beatles hit re-recorded by Busta Rhymes, I got drunk and fell over a table.

Next thing a fella knows it’s Unknown Pleasures on repeat. “I’m not afraid anymore…” etc etc.

Next thing anyone would dare notice is that probably the sky is twisting purple, apocalyptic contortions every which way.

So whilst, for sure, plenty of what Audrey gets up to in He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is reasonably alien to a fella, (like speaking fluent French, for example), the emotional touchstones are all struck with painful regularity.

The fella she loves just kissed someone else. I have no need to relate a damn thing about sitting on a bus whilst the object of The Duke’s then-affections swallowed the tongue of a reprobate drunk on all manner of satanic brew right the hell behind me.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not uses extraordinary colors to paint a depressingly recognizable emotional tableaux.

“That’s nice, that right there, about the paint.”

The subject of The Duke’s Obsession as of July 2005, she’s reading over my shoulder. “And too true”, she adds. “Everyone knows what that burning feels like, when you wake up choking on your own resentment for someone you never met, just because you know they’re kissing your muse.”

I shrug, is all. Yeah, I have boundless hate for a gallery of faceless fuckers could fill Venice thrice over.

“What was the flick like?”, she asks.

“Yeah, it was pretty good. Quirky. Bleak, but charming.”


Thanks folks.

The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando

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About The Duke

  • Aaman

    I think I fathomed c’est un film that I must watch, tout suite.

    Loved the paragraph,

    Seventy-nine sonnets a night for the object of one’s sticky notions, yes. Entire narratives, an epic saga spread cross forty-two volumes, a sci-fi opus concerning a colony of elves living in Connor Oberst’s fringe, yes. A re-write of Paradise Lost concerning the intricacies of Pete Doherty’s delightful hat, yes.

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    thanks Aaman! I’m sure you’ll enjoy this number immensely, and you’ll understand why i was so scant with regards plot details.

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    ooh, also, i hope the “opinion” header is alright. editors, feel free to change to “review” if you like, but i thought something along the lines of this was closer to “opinion”.

  • Bryan McKay

    I think your posts deserve a category all to themselves, Duke.

    (That’s a compliment, by the way, whether it seemed like one or not!)

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    well thank you Bryan, i will accept it as such! and then try to conquor this mattress anew… it will hold my sleepin form should i be forced to knock myself out with a hardback copy of Justine in order to accomplish as much!

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    oh, and if anyone was beside themselves with tension regarding the last comment, the truth of it all is that i slept soundly soon after, and needed nothing more than a fine sleep-enhancer and the latest nick hornby on audio book. hurrah!