Review: ‘Non-Fiction’

Non-Fiction | Olivier Assayas | NYFF 2018

Director Olivier Assayas returns with his new film Non-Fiction, a picture that takes on many present-day themes of technology and how these changes in technology change the way we read books or interact with one another.

Alain (Guillaume Canet) is an editor at a publishing firm that is adapting with the changing landscape of print media in the age of digital. He is forced to turn down the latest work by Leonard (Vincent Macaigne), a long-standing author at the publishing house who is best known for ripping all of his best ideas from real events that happen in his own life.

This may be a problem considering that Leonard has been having an affair with Alain’s wife Selena (Juliette Binoche), an actress. Thing is, Alain isn’t exactly innocent either, as he is having an affair with Laure (Christa Théret), the digital manager at the publishing house whose job it is to transition them into the world of digital. The only one not cheating is Leonard’s girlfriend Valerie (Nora Hamzawi), who is too preoccupied with her political job to pay attention to the extracurricular activities of her boyfriend.

What unravels in this chaotic web of unfaithfulness and unrest in the changing world to digital is an energetic and rather clever and hilarious screenplay from Assayas that dabbles in the delight of the modern world with the hangover pain from an idealized past.

The strength in the screenplay lies in the conversations shared between the characters, lovers, friends, and sometimes both, and their ruminations on life. It doesn’t quite have the usual narrative heft and pull of some of Assayas stronger work, but he is able to pull out some great performances from this stellar cast of some familiar faces but also many that will be new to American audiences here.

While some individual scenes and recurring jokes (one Star Wars one is particularly great) shine more than the complete narrative whole, Assayas and his cast find a nice light comedic groove that works delightfully well.

Rating: 7.0/10