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

Drive Hard
Film Review: Drive Hard

A car-chase-heavy clunker whose vehicular set-pieces are almost as lame as the recurring sight of star John Cusack attempting to look cool while firing pistols. More »

Harmontown
Film Review: Harmontown

Open-nerve documentary about “Community” creator Dan Harmon’s chaotic live podcast tour after being fired from his own TV show is sometimes raggedly funny, but truly a fans-only artifact. More »

The Liberator
Film Review: The Liberator

Impressively mounted but overly truncated take on a great historical figure about whom much more needs to be known. More »

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin
Film Review: The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

Wide-ranging primer is involving but leaves some details hazy. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Gone Girl
Film Review: Gone Girl

Unlikeable people are up to no good in David Fincher’s entertaining adaptation of a cynical Gillian Flynn novel. More »

The Equalizer Review
Film Review: The Equalizer

Former agent is drawn out of hiding to fight a Russian gang in a reboot of the 1980s television series. 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