The Nature of Love (Simple comme Sylvain)
Quebec multi-talent Monia Chokri previously starred in a number of films presented in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, such as Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats and Laurence Anyways. After her debut A Brother’s Love premiered at the festival in 2019, she was invited back this year for the second time as a director, showcasing her latest work The Nature of Love (Simple comme Sylvain).
Forty-something philosophy professor Sophia (Magalie Lépine-Blondeau) prides herself on her education and her intellect. The fact that she and her husband sleep in different beds is a sign of a stable and mature relationship for her. The excitingly unfamiliar simplicity of contractor Sylvain (Pierre-Yves Cardinal) attracts her at first, and they promptly start an affair, but once she has left her marriage to be with him, Sophia starts to have doubts.
In essence, The Nature of Love is a tale about the grass that is always greener, and wanting what you can’t have. Perhaps it is a sad reality of human nature that our fickle fascination with the new will always be at war with the desire to stay in our comfort zone, but Chokri chose to tackle this dilemma in a hearty comedy. French audiences were in stitches when the film screened in Cannes, and while some of the humour may be lost in translation, the odd chuckle will be inevitable due to the absurdity of the story’s scenarios.
As impressive as it is to have a signature visual style this early in one’s career, the creepy lurking of the camera worked much better in Chokri’s previous film Babysitter, where it was directly related to the plot and the male characters’ way of interacting with their female counterparts. The Nature of Love is told from Sophia’s perspective, there is no sense of threat to support the sweeping zoom-ins, and the jarring editing choices also don’t further the narrative.
Still, the feature is an amusingly self-aware romantic comedy and certainly a must-see for fans of French-Canadian cinema.
The Nature of Love (Simple comme Sylvain) does not have a UK release date yet. Watch our interview with the director and star here.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.