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Film / Read My Lips

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Read My Lips (French: Sur mes lèvres) is a 2001 French film directed by Jacques Audiard, starring Emmanuelle Devos and Vincent Cassel.

Carla (Devos) works as a secretary in a construction company. Her relationships with her co-workers are bad, because she is aloof and because she is deaf. After a nervous breakdown, her boss suggests to hire an assistant. She decides to hire Paul (Cassel), a guy who has Just Got Out of Jail.


Read My Lips provides examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Carla is attracted to Paul, who is a criminal.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Carla is despised by her colleagues, partly because she is deaf.
  • Benevolent Boss: Morel, Carla's boss, is a nice guy. When Carla has a nervous breakdown at work, he proposes to hire an assistant.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Carla hires Paul. Progressively, they get to know each other. Then a henchman of Marchand shows up and Paul is forced to leave his job to work for Marchand. Carla suffers from being alone again. After some time, Paul invites Carla to go with him to a nightclub. Carla accepts with joy. Subverted, because Paul is just interested in her lip-reading abilities. Double subverted because in the end, they make out in the car.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Marchand's wife is introduced when Paul has to drive her home. She becomes important in the end: she is used by Carla to frame Marchand up for the theft of the money.
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  • Chekhov's Skill: Carla's lip-reading abilities are later used by Paul to spy on Marchand, his boss. They are finally used by Paul to tell Carla his plan to frame Marchand up.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Marchand's wife is angry at him because she thinks that he cheats on her (whether this is true or not is left ambiguous). Paul and Carla use her jealousy to frame Marchand up.
  • Closet Shuffle: Carla searches Marchand's flat. Suddenly, Marchand enters the room and Carla has to hide in a closet.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: When Marchand suspects that Paul has stolen the money, he almost drowns Paul in his bathtub to make him talk. When the Carambo borthers arrive, they beat Paul for the same reason.
  • Criminal Procedural: Paul is a petty gunman. He owes money to Marchand, a mob boss. He decides to steal money from Marchand and Carla becomes his accomplice.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Carla, Paul's love interest, is deaf.
  • Frameup: Paul and Carla frames Marchand up for the theft of the money: Paul hides a flight ticket in his jacket, then Carla convinces Marchand's wife to call him and to complain about the fact that he planned to fly abroad with his mistress.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: Paul was released from prison short before he is hired by Carla. He finds an honest job and a flat thanks to Carla, but soon he is forced to work as a barman for Marchand, a mob boss. Then he plans to steal money from his boss.
  • Living a Double Life: After Carla accepts to spy on Marchand, Paul and Carla are office workers by day. By night, Paul works as a barman in a shady nightclub, while Carla spy on Marchand from the roof of a building.
  • Outlaw Couple: Carla and Paul work together to steal money from Marchand. They become a romantic couple only in the end.
  • Reading Lips: Carla is deaf and she can read lips, so she understands when her colleagues make fun of her. Paul uses her skill to spy on his boss.
  • Shoutout: Carla is invited by her best friend to a party. The DJ wears a T-shirt with Bruce Lee in his yellow jumpsuit from Game of Death.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: There is a subplot about the disappearance of the wife of Masson, Paul's probation officer.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Carla reads Paul's plan to frame Marchand up on his lips, so the audience does not know anything about his plan. The plan works.
  • Work Off the Debt: Paul owes Marchand money. Since he cannot pay, Marchand forces him to work for him as a barman in his nightclub.

Alternative Title(s): Sur Mes Levres