A decades-spanning musical
In the central roles, real-life mother and daughter
Moving from frothy '60s nostalgia to dark melodrama, director Christophe Honore's film follows characters who follow their hearts, unwilling to accept such potential barriers to desire as marital status, language and sexual orientation. The generational dividing line is the
Ludivine Sagnier plays the younger version of Deneuve's character, Madeleine, who in the movie's first leap of plausibility (and a lighthearted nod to "Belle de Jour") begins moonlighting as a prostitute, a pair of stolen Roger Vivier pumps setting off the fateful chain of events.
Handsome Czech doctor Jaromil (Rasha Bukvic), one of Madeleine's clients, becomes the love of her life — and is affectingly played later, opposite Deneuve, by filmmaker Milos Forman.
In the first of a dozen pop numbers by Alex Beaupain, all of them lovely but more mood intensifying than musically memorable, Sagnier's Madeleine sings to Jaromil in a color-coordinated street scene. Honore's interweaving of artifice and realism is often effervescent, but a pointed theatricality undermines his incorporation of historical elements such as Prague Spring protests.
As impulsive as their roller-coaster love story is, Madeleine and Jaromil are the picture of equanimity compared with their daughter, Vera (Mastroianni), whose agitation is matched by the fevered strings in the score, and whose longing for a gay American drummer (
In a wonderful sequence, her father tries to inject some cheer in her life with the gift of a pink sari.
The story lines are thin, but the melancholy that Honore and his cast tap into is vibrant, particularly in Deneuve's portrayal of a woman who has embraced
'Beloved' -- 3 stars
No MPAA rating
Running time: 2:19; in French with English subtitles.