Beloved, aka Les bien-aimés (★★★★ Empire review)

BelovedSquareIf Pedro Almodóvar made a musical, it may look something like this French confection, which borrows the format of Christophe Honoré’s 2007 film Les Chansons D’Amour to tell a more ambitious, but no less personal story. Spanning the period 1964-2007, the film tells the story of a young Parisienne (played by Ludivigne Sagner and, later, Catherine Deneuve), before switching focus to her daughter (a revelatory Chiara Mastroianni), whose life is profoundly affected by her mother’s choices. Although novelistic in structure and scope, everything else here is pure cinema, cementing Honoré’s reputation as natural heir to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg director Jacques Demy. The casting of that film’s star, and her real-life daughter Mastroianni, are indicative of Honoré’s playfulness, but a high tolerance for spontaneous singing and plot contrivances is required to reap the rewards of what is likely to be a highly divisive film. ★★★★

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