The Arts

My Review on Les Chansons d’amour (Love Songs)

I had the utmost pleasure to come across this film on the Sundance Channel back in 2009, when it was still commercial-free. I was bored one afternoon, and flipping the channels. I saw Louis Garrel’s name, and I stopped. Having seen one Louis Garrel movie at the time, I thought he was an attractive French male. I also liked his acting. What intrigued me to watch this was that it was a musical.

If you were to read up on the synopsis of the movie through Wikipedia or IMDb, you would find that it’s about a married couple (Louis Garrel and Ludivine Sagnier) who begin a menage á trois with Ismael’s (Louis Garrel) co-worker (Clotilde Hesme). A tragedy occurs, and everything changes.

Here’s how I saw this movie:

Ismael works for a newspaper/magazine with Alice (Hesme). He’s dating Julie (Sagnier), and the spark in their romance is kaput. She wants him to join her at the movies, but he has to work. She thinks he’s doing stuff with Alice, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. They sing in an alley after the movie and work about their love life, and continue the song in their apartment. Julie makes more money, having received a raise, and things between Julie and Ismael have just burned out. To revive their romance, they introduce Alice as a partner into their bedroom to spice up things. Alice is disgusted by Ismael and Julie’s schmoopiness, and the menage á trois is pretty much implied. Alice is in love with Ismael, but she knows Ismael is completely devoted to Julie.

The three of them go to a concert. Alice is in the corner, making out with some guy from Britanny. Julie gets sick and she and Ismael decide to go home. While Ismael is getting their things, Julie collapses and dies. This throws everything into a tailspin. Ismael’s life goes into shambles, and he ends up staying at Alice’s boyfriend’s because going back to his apartment is too painful, and Julie’s oldest sister has taken up residence there.

You’re introduced to another character, Erwann (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet). Erwann is infatuated with Ismael, and you spend some time wondering how the heck Ismael doesn’t see it. Ismael and Erwann become close, and they share their secrets and stories. Alice begins to see things changing. Having broken up with the Breton, she thinks Erwann’s hanging around to see Ismael is a front, and that her ex has his brother spying on her.

In the end, lives change.

The reason I love this movie is the emotions and the scenery. It’s filmed in Paris. I cannot get enough of films shot in Paris. This movie you see the grittier streets of the city, and not all the opulence and beauty that most movies in Paris convey. All the actors do a superb job with their roles, conveying sadness and jealousy over various things. A particular favorite scene of mine is in the cemetery days after Julie died, and Ismael finally visits her. The emotion of her dying has caught up with him, and she sings Pourquoi viens-tu si tard (Why Are You So Late?). Ismael cries, and walks through the cemetery depressed.

There is no sex, no violence (unless you find man slapping another’s face violent), and no crude language (well, what I consider crude language). There are two males kissing in the film, but other than that, nothing untoward.

I am not very good at writing film reviews. I wish I had kept my review of Titanic from when I was fifteen, because that was a gem.

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