Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Beloved

This second-rate Jacques Demy homage crisscrosses multiple continents, nationalities, generations, decades and some key historic events in a helter-skelter romantic musical as odd as it is confusing and corny.

Aug 17, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1361288-Beloved_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Writer-director Christophe Honoré’s Beloved certainly has originality and daring going for it as the saga of a Parisian hooker and her daughter over many romantically stressed decades. Stars Catherine Deneuve, real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni and Ludivine Sagnier are the important draws here. And buffs may appreciate the film’s bright splashes of Demy color schemes (red, aqua!) and possibly the bursts of music and dance. Beloved does convey an urge to please, but it’s a tedious slog.

As geographically generous as a Bond thriller or tentpole actioner, Beloved begins in 1963 Paris, moves to Prague in the late ’60s, then London in the ’90s and ends up in Montreal in the early 2000s. Or something like that and not in that order.

The story first introduces young heroine Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier as the younger character, Catherine Deneuve as the older Madeleine) in 1963 Paris, where she works as a shoe-loving shop girl but moves on to better money as a prostitute. One of her tricks is handsome Czech doctor Jaromil (Rasha Bukvic), who makes her respectable as his wife.

They split because the Prague Spring tumult is growing, but Madeleine soon joins him in Prague, where their daughter Vera is born. But when Jaromil turns to other women and the Russian tanks turn to Prague, Madeleine returns to Paris. Yet their love survives as more traumas and complications emerge.

Decades later in London, the story of the adult Vera (Chiara Mastroianni) revs up. She falls for handsome American drummer Henderson (Paul Schneider). Her sidelined boyfriend, writer Clement (Louis Garrel), suffers but soon it is Vera’s turn when she learns Henderson is really gay.

Meanwhile, back in Paris, Madeleine (Deneuve) is remarried to the kindly Goriot (Michel Delpech) but rekindles her romance with now older ex-husband Jaromil (Milos Forman) in his hotel room. Other dramas follow, including Vera becoming stranded in Montreal at the time of the 9/11 attacks, a breakdown, a pregnancy, a terrible illness, and a sentimental burial at Reims in France.

The pile-up and back-and-forth of all this challenges, so thanks go to Mastroianni’s Vera, who provides some orientation with voiceovers accompanying the many flashbacks. Throughout, references like those to Sputnik or pop-culture fashions suggest the scrambled time frames.

Viewers who stick around on this long, melodramatic flight will be occasionally diverted by the nice cast and diversity of locations. The less patient and easily disoriented, including those for whom hookers, shoe obsessions and disruptive musical outbursts are not so compelling, may opt for emergency exits.


Film Review: Beloved

This second-rate Jacques Demy homage crisscrosses multiple continents, nationalities, generations, decades and some key historic events in a helter-skelter romantic musical as odd as it is confusing and corny.

Aug 17, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1361288-Beloved_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Writer-director Christophe Honoré’s Beloved certainly has originality and daring going for it as the saga of a Parisian hooker and her daughter over many romantically stressed decades. Stars Catherine Deneuve, real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni and Ludivine Sagnier are the important draws here. And buffs may appreciate the film’s bright splashes of Demy color schemes (red, aqua!) and possibly the bursts of music and dance. Beloved does convey an urge to please, but it’s a tedious slog.

As geographically generous as a Bond thriller or tentpole actioner, Beloved begins in 1963 Paris, moves to Prague in the late ’60s, then London in the ’90s and ends up in Montreal in the early 2000s. Or something like that and not in that order.

The story first introduces young heroine Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier as the younger character, Catherine Deneuve as the older Madeleine) in 1963 Paris, where she works as a shoe-loving shop girl but moves on to better money as a prostitute. One of her tricks is handsome Czech doctor Jaromil (Rasha Bukvic), who makes her respectable as his wife.

They split because the Prague Spring tumult is growing, but Madeleine soon joins him in Prague, where their daughter Vera is born. But when Jaromil turns to other women and the Russian tanks turn to Prague, Madeleine returns to Paris. Yet their love survives as more traumas and complications emerge.

Decades later in London, the story of the adult Vera (Chiara Mastroianni) revs up. She falls for handsome American drummer Henderson (Paul Schneider). Her sidelined boyfriend, writer Clement (Louis Garrel), suffers but soon it is Vera’s turn when she learns Henderson is really gay.

Meanwhile, back in Paris, Madeleine (Deneuve) is remarried to the kindly Goriot (Michel Delpech) but rekindles her romance with now older ex-husband Jaromil (Milos Forman) in his hotel room. Other dramas follow, including Vera becoming stranded in Montreal at the time of the 9/11 attacks, a breakdown, a pregnancy, a terrible illness, and a sentimental burial at Reims in France.

The pile-up and back-and-forth of all this challenges, so thanks go to Mastroianni’s Vera, who provides some orientation with voiceovers accompanying the many flashbacks. Throughout, references like those to Sputnik or pop-culture fashions suggest the scrambled time frames.

Viewers who stick around on this long, melodramatic flight will be occasionally diverted by the nice cast and diversity of locations. The less patient and easily disoriented, including those for whom hookers, shoe obsessions and disruptive musical outbursts are not so compelling, may opt for emergency exits.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Calvary
Film Review: Calvary

An invidious, enervating piece of work blessedly relieved by Brendan Gleeson’s empathetic portrayal of a worldly priest confronting the sins of the world. More »

Rich Hill
Film Review: Rich Hill

This study of teens trying to make it in a very depressed and depressing heartland would have benefited from more hard info and less pictorial meandering. More »

Child of God
Film Review: Child of God

Depravity abounds in this James Franco-directed adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, which despite a committed performance by Scott Haze proves a one-note endurance test. More »

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
Film Review: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

A return to the stripped–down ferocity of Eli Roth's no-frills 2002 shocker, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (which the title suggests is a prequel, though it doesn't really feel like one) lacks originality but delivers the body-horror goods far better than genre minimalist Ti West's Cabin Fever 2: Spring Break (2009), a broadly campy spin on ’70s high-school horror clichés. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here