Rémy and Sandra are unable to have children because they have “Syndrome of past loves”. To heal, there is only one solution: they must go back to bed with all their exes.

Ann Sirot and Raphaël Balboni, who have previously written and directed the criminally underrated Madly in Life (La Vie Démente), once again created a dreamlike scenario that touches on real life experiences. Their previous film is still one of my absolute favourites of 2020 and probably the finest Belgian film released in the last decade. With Le Syndrome des Amours Passées they’ve solidified their unique craftsmanship and storytelling as one of the most contemporary and visionary Belgian filmmakers active right now.

Le Syndrome des Amours Passées (or The (Ex)perience of Love) is often hilarious and quirky, while it manages to find deeper meaning in what love really is all about. Sirot and Balboni’s style is reminiscent of Gondry and Kaufman at times, turning normal situations into tiny timeless masterpieces without having to explain why certain things are happening – they just make sense. For example, when Sandra contacts a former lover, who now turns out to be a bike repair guy, they end up naked and sensually intertwined by what looks like massive bike tires. These specific elements give more meaning to the character’s thought process and are afterwards often discussed while the couple spend quality time in bed or bath as they indulge in recollection of past events.

Often with romantic comedies, chemistries make or break the film, but that’s definitely not the case here. The undeniable chemistry between our two leads is unmatched and proves once again that these filmmakers know exactly what and who they’re looking for. Lucie Debay (Nos Batailles, King of the Belgians) plays the rather outgoing but composed Sandra, who’s had quite a few more lovers than her somewhat more demure husband Remy. He’s played by Lazare Gousseau (Baden Baden). These two actors bounce off each other like magnets and easily carry the film without having to share the spotlight with the many supporting characters they come across.

Production wise, this film feels more grounded than their previous cinematic effort, but the quality is still a step above other similar genre-films. Editing, score, cinematography, set design – they have all been carefully curated to form a united whole.

You won’t come across a more naturally charming romcom that not only feels authentic but balances its more serious tones with the touching ones than this year’s Le Syndrome des Amours Passées. A captivating love story shot through the tender lens of empathy.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), May 20, 2023. Running time: 89 min.

PRODUCTION: A KMBO release of a Tripode Productions & Hélicotronc production. Producers: Julie Espartos, Delphine Schmit & Guillaume Dreyfus.

CREW: Directors/writers: Ann Sirot & Raphaël Balboni. Cinematography: Jorge Piquer Rodriguez. Editing: Sophie Vercruysse & Raphaël Balboni. Music: Julie Roué.

CAST: Lucie Debay, Lazare Gousseau, Florence Loiret Caille, Ninon Borsei, Florence Janas & Nora Hamzawi.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: