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Les Bien-Aimes

Directed by Christophe Honore

France, 2011

Cornerhouse, 22 May 2012


One of those French films about love – all about how it’s a blessing and a curse, how though it is difficult to live with love it is impossible to live without it.

Eros, c’est la vie.

And as with recent films featuring Catherine Deneuve, there’s a fair few allusions to her life and career.  She is – or has become, or has donned the persona of – The French Woman.  Her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, plays her daughter in this one – and read into that what you will.  Also, like Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, this film is a musical too – at any rate, there’s singing.

The problem with the film is that it lacks any genuine sense of peril – it’s too light and, frankly, altogether too indulgent for that.  This wouldn’t matter terribly if the film were simply a fluffy comedy.  But since it addresses topics such as love and death, passion and the perversity of human nature, it’s unable to strike the right register.  You’d be forgiven for coming away thinking that love was a pastime for self-absorbed people with time on their hands.  Say, for housewives who don’t work and think love might make an engaging hobby.  And come to think of it, that’s another Catherine Deneuve film right there.