The latest offering from France’s Christophe Honoré is a complex and, after a shaky start, compelling musical melodrama.
This latest offering from France’s Christophe Honoré is a complex and, after a shaky start, compelling musical melodrama, beautifully shot to convey an atmosphere of love and the despair that love can bring.
Beloved opens in 1960s Paris. Young and beautiful Madeleine (Ludvine Sagnier), tired of her meagre existence working in a shoe shop, decides, on a whim, to become a prostitute. She soon falls in love with one of her clients, moves to Prague and has a child, Véra. Madeleine’s marriage breaks down however, and she moves to London with Véra, who grows up to possess the same attitudes towards love as her mother, excess baggage and all.
The scenes set in the '60s and '70s are slower and more difficult to engage with. This is particularly true of the moments where characters move through history, interacting with their younger or older selves. However, Honoré’s sense of cheery playfulness ushers us through the more grim material.
The contemporary story that unfolds has a strength to it that makes many of the film’s other problems irrelevant, and later it is possible to see the worth of the first half of the film despite its difficulties. Moments of pain and happiness are boldly stated, sometimes sung, sometimes not, and often accompanied by a soundtrack that includes both Foals’ 'Spanish Sahara' and, more surprisingly, Everything But The Girl’s 'Missing'.
This portrait of contemporary relationships and the reckless pursuit of love is explored via convincing, rounded characters, brought to life by a strong, pan-global cast. Catherine Deneuve provides am impeccable performance (would we expect any less?) as the melancholy matriarch, while Chiara Mastroianni, Paul Schneider and Miloš Forman, round out the ensemble very nicely indeed.
Most interesting, though, is the relationship between mother and daughter. Both replicate each other’s romantic mistakes, taking a lifetime to learn what they want and need. Honoré has done an striking job of critically exploring modern ideas of love, linking them through repeated use of the same location as well as engaging contemporary political events and issues.
It’s been a while since Honoré, director of Dans Paris and Chansons d’Amour has had UK distribution.
After the problems of the first act, it becomes a tremendously joyous experience.
Christophe Honoré’s delivers on his promises and provides a captivating film that just needs the fat trimming.