Les Chansons d'Amour (France; 100 min.)


directed by: Christophe Honoré
starring: Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, Clothilde Hesme, Chiara Mastrioanni, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
Les Chansons d'Amour
 
Bruce says: "This film is the type that haunts one’s memory long after seeing it. Audacious and totally unconventional, LES CHANSONS D’AMOUR is an UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG without Michel Legrand. Almost half of the film is sung; at the most unexpected moments the actors burst into song. The songs are about love, jealousy, grief, mystery, and loss. The dialogue is similar to any other French drama involving a ménage à trois, untimely death, inappropriate sexual dialogue between parent and child, bisexuality, and homosexuality. Just how French can you get?

"The film is divided into three acts, all referring to the state of being in love. Act I is 'The Departure.' Ismaël is a young adult who never questions or probes while he floats through life. Julie (Ludivine Sagnier) and Ismaël (Louis Garrel) have been a couple for some time. They have drifted into a threesome with Alice (Clothilde Hesme). Quite by surprise love evaporates when Julie collapses at a rock concert; minutes later she dies on the sidewalk, unresponsive to paramedic pokes and prodding. Alice is at the club, too, but is busying herself picking up a man named Gwendal as the tragedy plays itself out. Julie’s death affects Ishmael profoundly.

"Act II is 'The Absence' during which Ismaël must confront what has happened. When he is not willing to meet the issues head-on, Julie’s family steps in and begs him to help them understand. If he cannot help himself, how can he help others? Ismaël attempts casual sex. Julie’s sister arrives to help him clean out Julie’s things from the apartment. Nothing works or is easy. Act III is 'The Return.' Finally, Ismaël rediscovers love; but the road is rough-paved. Alice rescues him from a bender one night and takes him back to Gwendal’s apartment where Gwendal’s brother Erwann falls instantly in love with Ismaël. Erwann is adorable but has the persistence of a stalker. So love arrives in a clever disguise and with an unwelcome demeanor. Poor Ismaël, will he survive?

"Louis Garrel is rapidly becoming one of France’s leading actors. He recently appeared in Honoré’s intriguing DANS PARIS after starring in the director’s serious misstep, MA MÈRE. Ludivine Sagnier, developing quite a résumé as well, has been frequently seen in films of François Ozon - WATER DROPS ON BURNING ROCKS, 8 WOMEN and SWIMMING POOL. The supporting cast is strong.

"LES CHANSONS D’AMOUR is a deceitful film. The breeziness of its central character belies the film’s underlying sensibilities. One of my favorite moments occurs at the beginning of the film when Ismaël and Julie go to her parents’ apartment for dinner. Julie confesses to her mother and sister that she and Ismaël are involved with Alice. Julie’s mother wants to understand threesomes. She wants to know if it is difficult to maneuver under the covers. Is it difficult to decide who does what? 'No mother, that’s the easy part,' Julie replies. Sometimes we worry about the wrong thing. 5 cats

"LES CHANSONS D'AMOUR screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival."