The secret to this studied effortlessness is to wash your hair only every few days (a bit grubby is good), cut your own fringe (so you don’t appear to have tried too hard), and have one signature style item that elevates every other piece of clothing you have.
Caroline’s is the biker jacket she’s wearing today.
Having acquainted myself with the characteristically forthright pearls of wisdom set out in her book – covering everything from dinner parties (‘Get conversation flowing with a controversial political statement’) to the French woman’s secret to staying slim (‘Don’t eat breakfast’) – I meet her bright and early to talk all things style in the ornate surroundings of one of her favourite restaurants, Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon.
She looks nonchalantly cool, as if she threw on what came to hand from the floor of the house she shares with music producer Yarol – who she met at a rock concert in 2004 – and their nine-year-old son.
Tightly framed close-ups bring an emotional catharsis and deep sensitivity to the physical act of love, which sit in opposition to the expansive and endless seascapes that become threatening spaces of unnerving claustrophobia, which heighten rather than soothe, the heroine’s disquietude as she embarks on her emotional and spiritual quest.Ariane Labed is a revelation as Alice, whose nuanced yet emotionally charged performance, not only anchors the core narrative but navigates the philosophical subtexts with both a skittish mischievousness and an intense urgency to encapsulate the challenges and contradictions of a sexually liberated, yet keenly introspective woman, who is clouded by wanton lust in her pursuit of self-realisation.Labed steers the spicy saga with such compulsion and conviction, that without such emotional intelligence driving Alice’s personal narrative however, Borleteau could be in danger of simply delineating another prosaic, albeit erotic, tale about a beautiful thirty-something seeking sexual and emotional stability.Challenging conventional perceptions of gender roles through an anomalous approach to sexual conduct, Berleteau’s heroine steers a stormy voyage aboard an all-male freight ship, whipping up a priapic frenzy that tests her attitudes to love and commitment, which she confronts with fear and uncertainty.When a member of the crew suddenly dies under dubious circumstances, Alice is drafted in as his replacement leaving behind her besotted Norwegian lover, Felix (Anders Danielsen Lie) and yearning for the passionate intimacy they both enjoy.