-By Ed Kelleher

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Read My Lips, a film by Jacques Audiard, is part psychological thriller and part romantic comedy--even, at times, Gallic screwball comedy. When Carla (Emmanuelle Devos), a shy, long-suffering office worker, catches the eye of young Paul (Vincent Cassel), things seem to look up romantically. Or do they?

As their relationship develops, Carla begins to wonder what's so bad about being 35 with a so-so figure and a hearing aid in both ears. But Paul, who is actually a thief currently on parole, has more than romance on his mind: He employs Carla's lip-reading skills in a plot to get revenge on the club owner who had him beaten over an outstanding debt.

Read My Lips gets off to a promising start, but the film struggles to maintain that momentum. Cassel and Devos give the tale some much-needed gravitas, but as the movie descends into melodrama, it loses much of its initial charm. Read My Lips is a familiar contrivance that won't sink many ships.

--Ed Kelleher

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