The latest Olivier Assayas work, Non-Fiction, is an amusing look at two middle-aged couples trying to understand the hyper-connectivity of todays society.
Alain (Guillaume Canet) is a successful book publisher struggling to adapt to a changing market. Feeling the increasing pressure to move further into the online world of e-books, he is looking to make bold changes professionally while delicately navigating his personal life. Married to television actress, Serena (Juliette Binoche), Alain attempts to keep his affair with a co-worker secret. Complicating matters further is the fact that his long-time friend and author Léonard (Vincent Macaigne), has written a new manuscript and is pushing for its publication. Only able to write novels that vaguely hide his numerous affairs in real-life, and not understanding the impact of online blogs on literature, Léonard finds it hard to accept that his star might be fading.
Featuring plenty of humorous intellectual conversations that touch on everything from the importance of Twitter in modern discourse to our tendencies to vote for politicians based on image over policy, Non-Fiction is endlessly charming. While not as biting as Assayas’s previous works, the breezy and natural air of the discourse in the film makes this easy to digest without feeling like one is being talked down to.
Filled with sly humour, the reference to Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon is Seinfeld level brilliant, it is the interaction of the couples, especially in relation to who is having affairs, that is most intriguing. In all of the discussions about modern narcissism and the transferring of stories and history, Assayas shows that technology may be used for several things, but it will never be able to fix the messiness of romantic relationships. Non-Fiction may not change one’s views on whether technology is bringing society together or ripping it apart, but it does offer some charming food for thought.