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Tautou is Nathalie, a young executive in the Paris branch of a Swedish company of obscure undertakings. Widowed for three years after her husband died in a tragic jogging accident, Nathalie has been devoting her life entirely to her job, with occasional time-outs to fend off the silky come-ons of her handsome boss, Charles (Bruno Todeschini). In denial about her loneliness, Nathalie slowly becomes aware of a fellow worker named Markus (Damiens), a tall, balding Swede with a goofy smile and an unfortunate taste for sagging khakis and hopeless beige sweaters. Markus is already smitten, but he has no gift for come-ons. When she drops by his office, he plays her lame Scandinavian music (“Contemporaries of ABBA!”). Eventually, he stirs her serious interest with a gift of a Pez dispenser.
Charles is baffled by Nathalie’s attraction to this big lug, and calls him in for closer inspection. “A sense of humor,” he muses. “You’re funny is that it?”
Well, partly. As Markus and Nathalie bond further, through a disastrous party thrown by some of her sleek friends (he naturally knocks over a bottle of pricey wine) and a trip out to the country to visit her grandmother, we come to see that Markus—a man as plain as a plate of pickled herring—has a previously unappreciated romantic heart.
The movie is based on a hugely popular French novel by David Foenkinos, who co-directed the film with his brother, Stéphane. It’s a picture with no surprises—the story is entirely schematic. But it has considerable charm, and some gentle laughs, and a large romantic heart of its own.