Playlist review – relatable, quirky Parisian quarter-life drama

Graphic novelist Sophie is disillusioned with adulthood in Nine Antico’s black and white drama of twentysomething life

This is not a perfect film but it is an interesting one. French graphic novelist Nine Antico makes her feature debut, and puts us in the familiar universe of a woman in her mid-20s, disappointed and disillusioned with adulthood. Here, it’s 28-year-old Sophie, who is struggling to get noticed as a graphic novelist and useless at relationships. Antico has joked that her film is 73% autobiographical, and perhaps its quarter-life crisis superpower is that on a genuine level it feels relatable and real.

Antico films Paris in black and white, which gives everything hipness and cool. Sara Forestier is likable and warm as Sophie, who quits her job waitressing to work at a small publisher of graphic novels, secretly dreaming they will print her work. Sophie’s fancy job title is “head of press”, but she’s earning minimum wage and her tasks include buying groceries for her tantrum-throwing boss. “I take my pasta very seriously,” he storms after she buys the wrong parmesan. When Sophie gets sacked and finds out that she is pregnant, panic sets in.

Playlist is brilliant on unwanted pregnancy – much better, in fact, than a lot of films that aim to destigmatise abortion. Here, getting a termination is a normal part of being a woman. Sophie feels lonely and a bit emotional at the clinic, then it’s back to life; the abortion is done and dusted by the 20-minute mark. The baby’s father is shifty chef Jean (Pierre Lottin): when he dumps Sophie, she begins to picture every man she meets as a potential love interest (we see her doodles of them on screen). It boils down to self-esteem; she doesn’t know what she wants. If he likes her, she likes him – a pattern of behaviour instantly recognisable but not often portrayed so honestly on screen.

In places this film can feel a little indulgent, with stock quirky comedy bits that don’t come off (like Sophie’s ongoing problem with bed bugs). But it feels worthwhile – funny and true about growing up and getting a life.

• Playlist is released on 22 October in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.


Cath Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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