Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Les Chansons d’Amour (Love Songs)

Most critics are calling this movie a musical and yes there are songs in this movie sung by the main characters, but I cannot call it a musical movie. The best description comes from Alex Beaupain, the music and songs writer when he says that the movie is not a real musical, it is more a movie with words being sung. For those that read French this is exactly what he says.

“Quand on parle de comédie musicale, on pense aux films de music-hall, à l'entertainment, comme les américains savent faire, avec des numéros chorégraphiés, des chansons qui commentent l'action. Ou alors aux films de Jacques Demy, qui a inventé un nouveau langage musical : les paroles chantées.”

So the movie recalls Demy’s style that was common in 60’s/70’s French movies like Jules et Jim or even The Umbrellas of Cherbourg that many English speaking critics want to establish as the best relation to this movie thanks to Catherine Deneuve being the mother of Chiara Mastroiani that is in this movie. But, honestly it can be related to any movie of that era.

There are 13 love songs in this movie that just melted my heart and if you love French talked songs like I do, I’m sure it will melt your heart as well. But even if the songs are all about love this movie is not a happy love story, au contraire, is a sad drama with a happy ending.

This movie written and directed by Christophe Honoré is all about love French style and starts with a ménage a trois with Ismaël (Louis Garrel) and partner Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) sharing their bed with Alice (Clotilde Hesme), but Julie is not that happy and literally she gets a broken heart. From that moment on Ismaël goes into turmoil, as he wants to grieve alone with somewhat expected results when he finally finds love again.

The movie got my attention since the beginning, but I find the songs are sort of distracting (at least for me) as they are so good that I had to stop and enjoy the song more than whatever was happening at that moment. Obviously you have to love “paroles chantées” songs as much as I do, to experience this. Otherwise I imagine that the movie flow will continue as if they were speaking.

Actor’s performances are good with especial mention to Chiara Mastroiani that plays Julie’s older sister. Paris 10th arrondissement looks great as cinematography is compelling.

The movie has some nominations in France awards and festivals, that include being in competition at the 2007 Cannes and four nominations at 2008 César Awards. Has one award for Christophe Honoré for Best Director at the Cabourg Romantic Film Festival and this award says it all, this is mainly a romantic movie that will please those that miss the songs integrated into dialogue that were very popular decades ago.

This very French film has a brief lesbian interest moment and a not small gay interest romantic story, but most of all is a film that will appeal to everyone that loves romance with the typical French approach.

Have to say that because of the songs and the good story I enjoyed this movie a lot.


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