Another surreal, dark comedy from Filipacchi (Love Creeps, 2005, etc.).
Costume designer Barb is so gorgeous her friend Gabriel kills himself for unrequited love of her, after which she dresses in a fat suit, gray wig and false teeth so no one else will be harmed by her looks and she can find a man who loves the inner Barb. Brilliantly gifted composer Lily is so plain that shallow Strad doesn’t even notice her adoration. Both women get together once or twice a week for a Night of Creation with successful novelist Georgia, untalented potter Penelope, and Jack, the former cop who rescued Penelope when she was kidnapped six years earlier. The atmosphere is rarefied verging on pretentious, an impression reinforced by the affected tone of the narration and the highly improbable arrival of two posthumous letters from Gabriel revealing that one of the five told him that he or she would kill Strad on a particular date if he hadn’t fallen in love with Lily by then. Among the other elements in an exceedingly busy plot: Anchorman Peter Marrick maneuvers to meet Barb after learning about her ugly disguise when he finds the laptop Georgia left in a taxi. Lily acquires the ability to make things beautiful by composing music about them, which of course she eventually uses to transform herself for Strad. And a bizarrely rude doorman makes multiple appearances that are finally justified by the violent climax that rebeautifies Barb and brings Lily destruction followed by the media’s remorseful reappraisal of the premium placed on good looks. The novel is more than a little over-the-top, and the characters have more attitude than personality. Still, there’s something weirdly compelling about the whole excessive parade, and most people will keep reading just to find out how all the elaborate manipulations turn out.
Contrived, to put it mildly, but an unsettling portrait of the way extreme physical beauty or ugliness distort people’s impressions.