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March 10, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

All that glitters (Tout ce qui brille)

Published 8/3/11 by

Ever had a sense of déjà vu while watching a movie? It’s a common feeling when you’re watching something where the plot, characters, setting, and ending have all been done before. If you like seeing what you know, then All That Glitters (Tout ce qui brille) is going to suit you down to the ground, because you’ll be in your comfort zone quicker than you can say ‘baguette’.

This formulaic film is comprised of the following familiar elements: two young girls, one shoehorned male, a splash of girly music, and some synchronised dancing around the suburbs of Paris. We get the fashion moments with some expensive shoes and the irresponsible, super-fashionable older friends, but we also get the down-to-earth, ‘real people’ in the outer suburbs, where not everyone can spend their time at upper-class, snobby clubs.

The saving grace of this film is that, at the very least, the two main characters have chemistry. Lila (Leïla Bekhi) and Ely (Géraldine Nakache) are your standard chick-flick best buddies, doing things that no-one in real life would normally do: dancing in the subway, making faces at each other, and sharing the habit of toying with a blue ribbon when they need comfort. Cute, but very much written into the script.

Lila and Ely are so tight they often get mistaken for sisters, so it’s amazing how quickly lust, and a desperate need to climb to the top of the social hierarchy, can so quickly derail their friendship.

Lila is, without doubt, the more socially ambitious and arguably the ‘prettier’ of the two. While Ely faithfully follows her from club to club, Lila is only too eager to dump her friend when the flirtatious Maxx (Simon Buret) offers her entry to a fabulous world of expensive shoes, upper-class tastes, and heady nightlife. Throw fashionable trend-setters Agathe (Virginie Ledoyen) and model Joan (Linh Dan Pham) into the picture, and suddenly Lila decides she’s too good for the likes of her suburban friends.

Lila allows herself to be swept away in the fantasy of ladder-climbing, it seems, because her mother has an obsession with her own absent and neglectful father. It might seem like a good excuse to hunger for escape, but it’s not, really; plenty of teenagers have dealt with emotional neglect without dashing off to nightclubs and turning into a spoilt brat when people don’t agree with you. Lila’s petulance makes it hard to side with her; she alienates almost everyone who cares about her and then expects the kind of immediate forgiveness she seems loath to give herself.

While Ely also feels the pressure to be fashionable, she suffers from the rather unfashionable feelings of guilt that accompany wilfully shunning others. She lets her dorky father Maurice (Daniel Cohen) come in for a good show of drunken verbal abuse by failing to even acknowledge that she knows him, but it costs her some of her pride. When things do finally blow up between Lily and Ely, you can basically write the ending yourself.

All That Glitters is a good film for teenage girls, but not so much for the film-goer who likes to see something new, fresh, and exciting. It’s a popcorn kind of movie, with the touches of fashion and the high life that seem mandatory in modern chick flicks. You get the added benefit of seeing some beautiful Parisian views, but the storyline could be transplanted just about anywhere else with the same result.


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