He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not is a valentine for those who thought the beatific smiles dispensed by Audrey Tautou in the spun-sugar French romantic comedy ”Amélie” were more loony than lovely: In this lemon-acid French romantic thriller, they are. As Angélique, a talented art student dizzy with devotion to her cardiologist boyfriend (Samuel Le Bihan), Tautou projects the same gamine glow, the same serene devotion to l’amour as she did in the movie that made her (and her haircut) famous. And it’s fun to watch first-time filmmaker Laetitia Colombani gently mock the Candyland atmosphere of ”Amélie while sponging off its popularity.
When we first see this young woman in love with love, she’s nose-deep in a rose, cajoling a florist into delivering the single stem to her sweetheart at work. (He is, for good measure, a doctor of the heart. He’s also married.) Angélique’s world is literally rose-colored. It’s also all inside her head. Colombani’s real, earnestly clinical subject is erotomania, the obsessional delusion of reciprocated love that’s just a stalker’s bike ride away from ”Fatal Attraction.” In one crucial, plot-changing moment of shifting perspective (and palette, from She-Said red to He-Said blue), this slight, unsteady film stops fluttering. And a deeper creepiness takes hold.
”He Loves Me” pedals uneasily between conventional thriller fright and a kinder, psych-student approach. And sometimes, it appears, the director wants to do nothing more than yank the petals of ”Amélie”-osity with a coy vengeance. The fact that it’s difficult to believe someone who looks as dewy as Tautou would be so dangerous is much of the game. Then again, the star’s willingness to mess with her own image may be her best inoculation against the kind of Gallic Kewpie roles she’s likely to be stuck with as the Kate Hudson of France.