Nobody enjoys spending time with the relentlessly self-absorbed, so who is the target audience for Vers la Tendresse?
Director Alice Diop focuses on three emotionally stunted young black Parisians and one disturbingly hirsute white one. Each is given 10 minutes to discuss their feelings toward relationships, set to shots of them staring off into space at sidewalk cafés and (in the white guy’s case) snogging with a girl in a hotel room. The message of subjects 1 and 2 is that true love doesn’t exist and women are conniving hos. Subject 3 is a gay man who also argues real love is nonexistent. The white guy provides a nauseatingly sensitive counterpoint to the emotional nihilism.
The film’s unforgivable flaw is that there’s zero context for its choice of subjects. Diop had millions of Parisians to choose from, but tapped guys who who’d probably show up for a lunch date and then display no interest in anything other than talking about themselves. If that’s your idea of dream time, Vers la Tendresse has four folks you’re going to love, even if three of them are incapable of loving you back.