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

Citizenfour
Film Review: Citizenfour

Documentary account of how Edward Snowden leaked intelligence to the world press. More »

Glen Campbell I'll Be Me
Film Review: Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me

Alzheimer's is given an unforgettably human face here, and that face belongs to a music legend. More »

White Bird in a Blizzard
Film Review: White Bird in a Blizzard

A clichéd indie about a girl’s coming-of-age amidst her mother’s disappearance that, despite a sturdy lead performance by Shailene Woodley, is undone by hackneyed, go-nowhere plotting. More »

Exists
Film Review: Exists

Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez returns to the faux-found footage well and hauls out a bucketful of Bigfoot in this derivative but creepy shocker. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. 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