Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Names of Love

Semi-autobiographical drama from the improbable romance between a square, middle-aged French Jew and a fiery young “leftie” of North African descent is a cinematic descent into meandering self-indulgence and questionable taste.

June 22, 2011

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1252808-Names_Love_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The Names of Love arrives in the U.S. with promising laurels: Director Michel Leclerc and co-writer/life partner Baya Kasmi took the 2011 César Award for Best Original Screenplay, and the film’s young star, Sara Forestier, was named Best Actress. Forestier, whose character is seen either scantily or not at all dressed, bears (and bares) most of the film’s good news as she provides the lioness’ share of the film’s considerable sexual content. Audiences who like films with themes of obsession, politics, racial identity and discrimination may also be receptive.

The bad news is that these themes are ineptly, even insultingly handled in this autobiographical trifle. Baya (Forestier) is a twenty-something political activist and prostitute who only sleeps with right-wingers as part of her mantra to “make love, not war” and bring these targets over to the left. As least politically, Baya has understandable instincts, as she is the offspring of Cecile (Carole Franck), a French anti-colonialist, and Mohammed (Zinedine Soualem), the North African immigrant and Algerian War survivor she married.
There’s no “meet-cute” in Baya’s first encounters with middle-aged Arthur (Jacques Gamblin), a veterinarian who specializes in animal diseases without displaying any sympathy towards animals. She storms a radio station where he is being interviewed, and after another encounter insists they sleep together.

Arthur is very stuffy and conventional, characteristics which Baya apparently reads as “right-wing.” As the two get involved, they learn more about their parents’ troubled pasts. Arthur’s Jewish grandparents on his mother’s side were from Greece, resettled in France but soon got caught up in the Holocaust and Vichy France Nazi collaboration. Baya’s father Mohammed, although married to a Frenchwoman, has had to endure the hardships of an Arab starting over in France.

Predictably, the relationship between Baya, who was sexually abused by her supposed piano teacher, and Arthur is bumpy. As The Names of Love strives to make all of this interesting beyond bedrooms, it hops around between various time periods and fantasy sequences. (Scenes in which young Arthur hangs with the older Arthur don’t help matters.). It’s all haphazardly assembled, and lacking in heart or wit.


Film Review: The Names of Love

Semi-autobiographical drama from the improbable romance between a square, middle-aged French Jew and a fiery young “leftie” of North African descent is a cinematic descent into meandering self-indulgence and questionable taste.

June 22, 2011

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1252808-Names_Love_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

The Names of Love arrives in the U.S. with promising laurels: Director Michel Leclerc and co-writer/life partner Baya Kasmi took the 2011 César Award for Best Original Screenplay, and the film’s young star, Sara Forestier, was named Best Actress. Forestier, whose character is seen either scantily or not at all dressed, bears (and bares) most of the film’s good news as she provides the lioness’ share of the film’s considerable sexual content. Audiences who like films with themes of obsession, politics, racial identity and discrimination may also be receptive.

The bad news is that these themes are ineptly, even insultingly handled in this autobiographical trifle. Baya (Forestier) is a twenty-something political activist and prostitute who only sleeps with right-wingers as part of her mantra to “make love, not war” and bring these targets over to the left. As least politically, Baya has understandable instincts, as she is the offspring of Cecile (Carole Franck), a French anti-colonialist, and Mohammed (Zinedine Soualem), the North African immigrant and Algerian War survivor she married.
There’s no “meet-cute” in Baya’s first encounters with middle-aged Arthur (Jacques Gamblin), a veterinarian who specializes in animal diseases without displaying any sympathy towards animals. She storms a radio station where he is being interviewed, and after another encounter insists they sleep together.

Arthur is very stuffy and conventional, characteristics which Baya apparently reads as “right-wing.” As the two get involved, they learn more about their parents’ troubled pasts. Arthur’s Jewish grandparents on his mother’s side were from Greece, resettled in France but soon got caught up in the Holocaust and Vichy France Nazi collaboration. Baya’s father Mohammed, although married to a Frenchwoman, has had to endure the hardships of an Arab starting over in France.

Predictably, the relationship between Baya, who was sexually abused by her supposed piano teacher, and Arthur is bumpy. As The Names of Love strives to make all of this interesting beyond bedrooms, it hops around between various time periods and fantasy sequences. (Scenes in which young Arthur hangs with the older Arthur don’t help matters.). It’s all haphazardly assembled, and lacking in heart or wit.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Tracks
Film Review: Tracks

Ably supported by Adam Driver, Mia Wasikowska commands the screen in John Curran’s superbly photographed drama based on a true story. More »

The Zero Theorem
Film Review: The Zero Theorem

A noisy, hyperkinetic, visually gorgeous spectacle that tackles the mother of all big questions–the meaning of life—Terry Gilliam's latest is sometimes frustrating and occasionally outright goofy, but it's never dull. More »

Art and Craft
Film Review: Art and Craft

Documentary portrait of the artist as a disturbed man, but one who is overwhelmingly endearing, functioning and talented—and whose métier happens to be art forgery. This smartly produced and constructed art-themed art-house entry delivers a canvas of caper, comedy and delightful curiosities that engage and provoke some serious thought. Like the hero’s forgeries, it deserves a close look. More »

Pump
Film Review: Pump

Thought-provoking documentary about the lunacy of only fueling cars with gasoline loses credibility the more it turns into a single-minded broadside. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Maze Runner
Film Review: The Maze Runner

Youths try to break out of a deadly maze in the latest young-adult doomsday thriller. More »

This is Where I Leave You
Film Review: This Is Where I Leave You

Siblings bond, fight and face new problems after the death of their father in an ensemble dramedy based on the best-selling novel. 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