1960s France. Shopgirl Madeline (Sagnier) makes some extra francs as a part-time prostitute who meets the love of her life while on the job. Skipping forward several decades and the older Madeline (Deneuve) looks back ruefully on a failed marriage. Could her daughter be making the same mistake?
If Almodovar made a musical, it might look a bit like this. Borrowing the format of Christophe Honoré’s Les Chansons D’Amour to tell a more ambitious, but no less personal story, the film spans 1964 to 2007, first following a young Parisienne (played by Ludivine Sagnier and Catherine Deneuve), then her daughter (a revelatory Chiara Mastroianni), whose life is profoundly affected by her mother’s choices. Although novelistic in structure, everything else is pure cinema, cementing Honoré’s status as heir to The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg director Jacques Demy. The casting of that film’s star, and her real-life daughter Mastroianni, indicates the director’s playfulness, but a high tolerance for singing and plot contrivances is needed to reap the rewards of what is likely to be a highly divisive film.
Christophe Honoré goes epic in a tale of interlocking lives that owes a debt to Jacques Demy. It won't be to everyone's taste but it's playful enough to win us over.
Reviewed by David Hughes