Read My Lips (Cert 15)

by SARAH DUNANT, Evening Standard

Good thrillers mess with your mind by playing on your senses; nervy camera angles, distorted vision, amplified, multilayered soundtrack.

Jacques Audiard's Read My Lips takes this a step further by making the heroine virtually deaf. An angry young French secretary, played by Emmanuelle Devos, carries her disability heavily, reading her workmates' insults on their lips and nursing a growing sense of frustrated sexual desire.

When the man she employs to help her with the filing turns out to be an ex-con with a similarly marginal attitude to the world, the semi-outcasts find adrenaline from walking on the wild side together.

The movie intrigues, then starts to coil around you like a snake as the two move from early dirty tricks in the office to the bigger heist of relieving a crooked nightclub owner of his stolen money.

With Devos spending her nights in a hyped Hitchcock Rear Window landscape, reading the lips of the thieves through binoculars, the film gets darker and dirtier and the soundtrack - heard at key moments through her amplified hearing aid - wilder.

No glamour or artificial slickness here. Instead a jagged, edgy and increasingly violent movie with a powerfully charged eroticism and an unflinching eye for the ways in which thwarted desire and desperation can turn people inside out. Unexpectedly good.

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