What happens when a tightly-wound Jewish scientist falls for a young Algerian sexpot in modern-day France? Cultures, mores, quirks and tragic family histories collide—to surprisingly humorous effect.
By hook, by crook and by routine wardrobe malfunction, the charming and carefree Baya Benmahmoud seduces right-wingers in order to convert them to the left, embracing a literal interpretation of the motto “make love, not war.” When she mistakenly propositions socialist Arthur Martin and he politely declines (he has to perform a goose autopsy), the spark of recognition is kindled in both hearts: They’ve just met someone very rare.
The complications and the comedy soon bubble to the surface. Over one hilarious family dinner , the parents—an anti-nuclear power ex-hippie, an Algerian artist whose family was massacred by the French, a nuclear physicist who served in Algeria with the French army and a stern Jewish mathematician—trip over their entendres. While taking jabs at French pop culture, political figures and even French cinema, Names of Love doesn’t dance around French politics. It dives in and hits the most exposed, topical nerves: Arab-French relationships, the role of the veil, nationalism, anti-Semitism and, of course, sexual liberation. If you don’t fall in love with this whimsical, cheeky and slyly intelligent romantic comedy, you’ll at least fall in lust.