2018 NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: Charm and satire are wonderfully intertwined in Olivier Assayas‘ cleverly constructed foreign piece “Non-Fiction.” Assembling a thunderous cast that includes Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche, Guillaume Canet, Vincent Macaigne, and Nora Hamzawi, this prickly yet enjoyable ensemble elevates a simple enough story about the changing world of literature as the background of two married couples who’s infidelities play a pivotal role in their life decisions. Admittedly never being taken by any previous Assayas picture, “Non-Fiction” is his very best effort yet packed with hypnotic aura.
“Non-Fiction,” tells the story of an editor and an author, who find themselves in over their heads, as they cope with a middle-age crisis, the changing industry, and their wives.
In a comic blitz, Assayas spins the inspired subject while examining family dysfunction, the insecurities of men, and female empowerment. Likable with rich characters, the simplicity of the film’s plot creates enough breathing room for the cast to bounce off each other, which they do exquisitely. The film also imparts an important message about your voice and how complicated it can be to find it, especially within a flawed person who becomes indulgent on their own life choices.
Though at times feeling a tad unfocused, there’s an undeniable charm that the film inhabits, most of all with Juliette Binoche’s sensational performance. A great invention and exercise building something from the floor up, she finds humanity and guilt in Selena that’s just pleasant to watch moment after moment. Equally magnetic is Vincent Macaigne’s self-deprecating Leonard who believes in his own genius while desperately trying to get people to think it too. Nora Hamzawi slips in and out, demanding attention at every beat while Guillaume Canet is much more nuanced than the character initially feels.
While it may not land with the general masses, “Non-Fiction” has enough fire to sustain over much louder and bigger films in the year. Some movies are made simply for a good time, while others feel they have something to say on a topic. The film has a good hold on both, and one that a viewer can totally get behind.
“Non-Fiction” is screening at the New York Film Festival and is distributed by Sundance Selects/IFC Films.