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All Critics (42)
| Top Critics (17)
| Fresh (23)
| Rotten (19)
Characters traipse around city streets singing 60s-style pop tunes in this ungainly, overconceived musical.
Honoré's a genuinely gifted eccentric of a filmmaker, but on the evidence of "Beloved," he could use a nap.
The plot of "Beloved," I'm afraid, may try your patience.
Somehow manages to feel sprawling and epic, while at the same time presenting an intimately observed view of two women's love lives.
Skips around the decades, taking a minimalist approach to history - mostly by demonstrating how recent traumatic events have inconvenienced the love lives of its central characters.
It's a film full of turbulence and passion, as a mother and daughter embark on their separate journeys - their pasts and futures, their happiness and sorrow, intertwined.
A bit heavy-handed when the tone of the piece isn't wavering uneasily between light and dark.
The film as a whole is a lugubrious French-pop disaster.
Mining the French New Wave for material and inspiration invites death by comparison.
Honoré's melodramatic excesses are tempered by the subtle performances of his leading ladies.
To see Deneuve singing in a train station again cannot help but recall "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and Jacque Demy's film is honored as well in Alex Beaupain's songs with lyrics which propel the story encased in breezy pop tunes.
What starts out as a perky musical, slides downward into a morass of misplaced romantic desires over the course of four decades.
After being mistaken for a prostitute in 1964, Madeleine(Ludivine Sagnier) decides to make a living of it for real. She rationalizes at least that way she will not have to steal from her day job at a shoe store and risk jail in order to afford the finer things in life. Instead, she should be more forward thinking, considering the therapy her now-grown daughter Vera(Chiara Mastroiani) requires in her rootless life in a few decades. Vera is a product of a marriage between Madeleine and Jaromil(Rasha Bukvic), a Czech doctor, who takes her away from Paris and a life in prostitution right into the path of a Soviet tank.
Like most of Christophe Honore's movies, "Beloved" is a work in frustration. However, it comes closer to being a success than his other maybe-sort-of-musicals. That's not because he fully commits to the genre for once or the songs being better but because of the emotionally precise performances of Chiara Mastroianni and Paul Schneider.(You have not lived until you have heard Paul Schneider sing in French.) But then Honore reaches too far, not realizing he does not have the skill or the focus to fully realize a multi-generational epic like this one. That just leaves it for the self-involved characters to wander the globe aimlessly.
Writer/director Christophe Honore and composer Alex Beaupain continue to reinvent the movie musical with "Beloved," a companion piece to their "Love Songs" (2008). No one else in the world is doing what they're doing. They may not be great artists, but they are certainly good ones. When they're at their best, they produce cinema moments that are nothing short of sublime.
In "Beloved" there also is the added delight of seeing the real-life mother-and-daughter team of Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni on screen together for what I think is the first time -- and playing a mother and daughter! Masterful casting.
One can't help but think of Marcello Mastroianni either (Chiara's late father), who seems to be lurking around every corner -- and through him, of course, Federico Fellini. And it gets better. The man playing Chiara's father is none other than Milos Forman. Yes, THE Milos Forman ("Amadeus"). The casting is almost too inspired. It threatens to drown the film in nostalgia for the halcyon days of European cinema.
Representing young Europe are, in addition to Mastroianni, Louis Garrel and Ludivine Sagnier. Garrel has appeared in just about every Honore film, perhaps even all of them. It's safe to say that Garrel is Honore's muse. But here, for a change, Garrel is not the focus. The focus overwhelmingly is on girls this time.
Sagnier plays the main character in her youth: a prostitute in 1960s Paris who falls in love with and marries a Czech doctor. In her later years, she's played by a still-randy Deneuve. Forman (who in real life is Czech) plays the Czech doctor in his later years. Mastroianni plays their daughter.
Garrel plays Mastroianni's on-and-off boyfriend.
Moving things in a really different direction (and bringing America into the mix) is an American played by Paul Schneider, a gay man who has a boundary-breaking hard-to-define romance of sorts with Mastroianni -- even while she's dating Garrel.
I know what you're thinking. Too many characters. It's true. That's a big reason for the 7 rating. The film does get overblown with confusing inter-relationships, and I haven't even explained all of them. I didn't mention the man Deneuve marries later in life after divorcing the Czech doctor. And did I mention that the Czech doctor returns to court Deneuve, and her husband allows it?
The film is also not edited well and too long (2 hours and 10 minutes).
"Beloved" is a musical kaleidoscope of love. At times, it's a sloppy mess. But at times it beautifully captures 21st-century love, in all its shape-shifting glory. Name one interesting person in a big city today who has a standard relationship that perfectly fits into the neat box of marital fidelity or even sexual orientation. I'm a gay man, and my greatest loves in the 21st century have been with single straight men and married straight women.
As I was just remarking in a review of Oliver Stone's "Savages," the human species is evolving at lightning speed. We're reinventing love in a fearless and exhilarating way. Honore revels in this and throws us into the euphoric thrum of it all with "Beloved." But it's not all glee. One character commits suicide. The breakdown of sexual orientation and bourgeois forms of relationship comes at a price. It can be profoundly disconcerting. When you love someone outside your sexual orientation you do most of the time go home alone -- both of you do. Both of you know that you're loved, but you don't have each other to hold onto in bed.
Making it even more complicated, the person who is in your bed knows your real love is someone else. Radical forms of love are not for the weak.
It is flawed, but "Beloved" is also a wonder -- a joyful but conflicted embrace of the future.
Did I mention the music?
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