Les Bien-aimés (Beloved)

The 2011 Cannes out-of-competition closing film absolutely is a very-very French film by Christophe Honoré that plays again with older French film styles but also integrates more contemporary Honoré style making end result quite interesting, at least for me as been reading around and seems that film is not for all audiences, which made me think that Honoré is an acquired taste for audiences that not particularly care for or like good French Cinema.

But if you like Christophe Honoré then this film will be one of the most enjoyable for the old movies indirect references, an outstanding cast with superb performances and great singing of “paroles chantées”, plus a story about women and the men they love. Actually story is about two women, Madeleine and Véra, mother and daughter, with the one man each loved their whole life; so, story spans from 1964 to 2007.

Young Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier) escapes from becoming a thief by incidentally discovering street prostitution, only to fall-in-love with Jaromil Passer, a Czech doctor doing a specialization in Paris and her client. Madeleine gets pregnant, marries Passer and goes with him back to Czechoslovakia, but his infidelities plus the Russian invasion, makes her return to Paris with her daughter Véra where he divorces Passer, marries a policeman and lives happily ever after until Passer comes back to Paris and reignites a flame that was never over. I know told a lot about movie, but it’s not much as Madeleine gets older (now performed by Catherine Deneuve), Véra is older (now performed by Chiara Mastroianni), Passer gets older (now performed by outstanding Milos Forman) and story continues with the love between Madeleine and Passer, plus Véra falling in love with Henderson (Paul Schneider) while being with Clément (Louis Garrel), but Henderson is gay; story evolves with relevant vignettes in the life all characters around Madeleine and Véra. All right is not a simple story, yes is complex but will grab you, take you all over the place, squeeze you, touch you, etc. until releases you at the very end.

Film has very high production values and a caring directorial hand that was able to squeeze 40 years in a bit more than 2 hours and extract from very impressive cast extraordinary performances with special mention to great Czech director Milos Forman –he should do more acting-, Ludivine Sagnier in role that feels and looks like a perfectly fit glove to a magnificent hand, and Chiara Mastrioianni performing like I have never seen her before -with many scenes where she looked so much as her real-life father- and somehow stealing scenes when she was on screen. Then Deneuve and Garrel are superb as always.

An extraordinary movie that of course I do recommend to those that love (classical) French cinema (at least as much as I do) and enjoy Honoré’s particular style that recalls Jacques Demy films (especially Les Parapluies de Cherbourg with Deneuve) but also here evolves with older Véra story into his own particular style.

Last, but not least, Christophe Honoré dedicated film to great Marie-France Pisier, RIP.


Watch trailer @MOC

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