Love Me No More

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      Starring Albert Dupontel and Marie-Josée Croze. In French with English subtitles. Rated PG. Opens Friday, August 15, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas

      Midlife crises can be a bitch (although, because their nastier aspects are usually made manifest in men, one should probably say “a bastard”).

      The latter term and former process certainly seem to fit Antoine (Albert Dupontel), an advertising executive who, on the eve of his 42nd birthday, savages his wife (Marie-Josée Croze), children, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers with a form of honesty that’s almost indistinguishable from sadistic brutality.

      Indeed, just about the only creatures who aren’t subject to his nonstop wrath and mischief-making are the family dog, a penniless hitchhiker, an elderly widow whose luck might have finally changed for the better, and the “other woman” (Alessandra Martines), who insists that her clandestine lunch partner come clean.

      Of course, things are not exactly what they seem, and once again the main emotional axis of a Jean Becker film (his previous effort was Conversations With My Gardener) turns out to be (straight) male-male. There’s plenty of talk about freedom, time, joie de vivre, and abandonment, but only the last of these four qualities appears to have an endless supply.

      Some of the scenes are quite tensely directed (the birthday party; the car ride) and others extremely picturesque (part of Antoine’s itinerary involves a side trip to Galway in Ireland). All in all, Love Me No More is a stronger film than Conversations, but, like its predecessor, it would have benefited from a slightly harder edge.