Marie (Judith Davis) is an inexperienced country girl moving to the big bad, scary city to study piano at the conservatoire. Naive, innocent but attractive, it is inevitable that Marie will be the focus of many a wandering eye. Thankfully she will not be entirely alone as she starts this exciting yet scary chapter of her life. Marie will be moving in with Emma (Isild Le Besco), her icy childhood friend. Emma’s father has recently passed away and her artist mother allegedly moved to New York, leaving her alone in the family’s luxurious Lyon apartment. The childhood friendship waned when Marie failed to return phone calls, prompting a frosty reception from the mysterious and sombre Emma. However, in the excitement of starting at the Conservatoire de Lyon, France’s second most prestigious music school, Marie’s innocent excitement allows her to get lost in her situation.
As time passes, Marie and Emma’s bond strengthens, with Emma appearing maternal in her caretaking of the less independent Marie. Yet her possessive nature is inexplicable, leaving Marie feeling trapped. Having had flirtations with coursemate Sami, Marie seems keen to explore her developing sexual urges, much to Emma’s disapproval. A strict no vistors policy is made house rule, with Marie breaking it at the very first opportunity. Followed shortly by a disastrous night out, in which Marie’s overt sex appeal brings unwanted attention, Emma’s true feelings are ousted as she comforts her shell-shocked friend. Unable to control her feelings any longer, Emma becomes obsessive leaving Marie unable to cope. With her studies effected, Marie leaves the apartment for home. Striking up a relationship with the aforementioned Sami (Johan Libereau), she returns to the apartment where the tension remains unbearable.
Having experimented in all field’s of the industry, Highly Strung (Je Te Mangerais) is only Sophie Laloy’s second directorial outing. Having penned the piece with the help of Jean-Luc Gaget and Eric Veniard, it is clear that Laloy always had a precise vision of how she saw events playing out. Beautifully crafted performances by both Davis and Le Besco makes for compelling viewing. The ice cold nature of Emma constrasts stunningly with the warm nature of her prey. Set flawlessly to classical symphonies of Mozart, Bach, Chopin and most importantly Ravel, the reflection of Marie’s sense of entrapment and escape is pitched perfectly. Johan Libereau is satisfactory as Marie’s lover Sami, but the scripting of his character is questionably unrounded making their brief fling somewhat questionably inevitable.