French auteur Olivier Assayas probes the promises and pitfalls of art in the age of digital communication, in this comedy about a Parisian publisher (Guillaume Canet) and his successful-actor wife (Juliette Binoche) adapting to the new-media landscape.


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Olivier Assayas

Digital disruption is all around us these days, and Olivier Assayas, who structured much of his recent film Personal Shopper around cellphones and texting, returns to this theme in his highly intelligent new examination of what this technology means to our lives. Doubles vies is both a delicious comedy of manners and an enquiry focused on a group of middle-aged, middle-class French men and women, and how they are affected by the hyperconnectivity of today.

Alain (Guillaume Canet) is a self-assured and successful book publisher struggling with the ins and outs of both his professional and private life. His relationship with his wife, Serena (Juliette Binoche), has gone slightly stale, and he has to deal delicately with one of his long-time authors (Vincent Macaigne), who has written a new manuscript and is pushing for its publication. Complicating this is Alain's enthusiastic embrace of digital and social media, which has led him to hire an impressively ambitious young woman as the "head of digital transition" in his company. As Alain pushes his new-media agenda forward, he encounters, variously, support and resistance from friends and colleagues.

Assayas's often-hilarious social critique is powered by a series of conversations about what this technological transition has meant for all of us - what is gained and what is lost. Doubles vies offers a subtle probing of what lies behind those conversations themselves, as well as behind the actions and behaviour of its ensemble of characters, all of whom are undergoing crises of values and beliefs.



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