Shortly after her marriage to an attractive banker, a teacher who dreamed of true love discovers that she has married a narcissistic pervert.
Psychological thriller adapted from the novel by Éric Reinhardt, with the help of screenwriter Audrey Diwan (The Event), Love and the Forests, by Valérie Donzelli (War Is Declared), delicately dissects a toxic romantic relationship. Told from the point of view of the victim, Blanche Renard (Virginie Efira), who confides in a lawyer (Dominique Reymond), the love story comes to us in fragments, out of order. It must be said that the heroine, in denial for too long, was severely tested. As his words are released, a feeling of shame rises to the surface.
Having not seen each other for several years, Blanche, a sunny teacher, and Grégoire Lamoureux (Melvil Poupaud, seductive and then terrifying), a dark banker, feel irrepressibly attracted to each other when they meet by chance in a party given by his identical twin sister, Rose (Virginie Efira, impeccable in both roles). In love with love, Blanche remains blind to the red flags that multiply and deaf to the concerns of her sister and her mother (Marie Rivière). They had barely moved in together when Grégoire announced to Blanche that he had been transferred to Metz, a city known for its communal forest. So here she is forced to leave her Normandy, the sea that she loves so much, her family, her job.
Starting with the lightness of a sentimental comedy by Éric Rohmer, Love and the Forests even takes a small turn towards Jacques Demy while the lovebirds happily sing about their budding love. This charming sung aside, which evokes those of War Is Declared, surprises to the point of creating unease and discomfort. Already Prince Charming’s words are distilling a slow poison. Then the fairy tale presented in warm colors slips to the dark side and transforms into a Hitchcockian thriller. And the prince as a pitiful little gentleman giving himself the air of a big bad wolf.
While she isolates her heroine in an oppressive Gothic residence, where the captive cannot escape the clutches of her jailer, Valérie Donzelli fragments Blanche’s image using mirror effects and reflections, until let it fall to pieces. Arousing sadness, fear and anger at the same time, Love and the Forests is a gripping drama that is a cruel reminder of the devastation caused by toxic masculinity in the intimate sphere. True to her nature, the filmmaker brings out a glimmer of hope.