Perth International Arts Festival – Beloved review

Beloved – Starring Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni and Ludivine Sagnier. Directed by Christophe Honoré. Rated MA. By Simon Miraudo.

Beloved plays the Perth International Arts Festival from November 28 to December 4. Click here for more details.

Christophe Honoré‘s Beloved fuses frothy French sexcapades with dour tragedy. In his attempts to make a bold genre-and-era-spanning epic about two generations of lovelorn women, Honoré’s latest effort feels clumsy and inelegant. The picture’s early, chipper, candy-coloured musical sequences – yep, it’s a musical, at times – don’t quite jibe with the latter half’s confronting conclusions.

Beginning in the 1960s, the luminous Ludivine Sagnier plays Madeline, a young shoe-saleswoman and part-time-prostitute who meets the love of her life Jaromil (Radivoje Bukvic) while working her second job. They eventually marry and have a child together, but, as the circumstances of their meeting probably should have indicated, he isn’t the most faithful partner.

As the decades pass, and the two divorce, the older Madeline (played by the equally luminous Catherine Deneuve) remains emotionally tied to him. Her daughter Vera (Deneuve’s real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni) enters into a similarly doomed relationship, falling for a gay American drummer (Paul Schneider) and finding herself unable to extricate herself from his charms.

Though we begin in the realm of fantasy, with Honoré’s recalling the swinging French 60s, we quickly hurtle into reality, dealing with affairs, AIDS, death and even 9/11 as the years tick on. The cast is uniformly excellent – legendary director Milos Forman plays the elder Jaromil – and the songs are mostly fun. At their best, the musical performances feel like a combination of the naturalistic tunes in Once with the sing-song conversations from Umbrellas of Cherbourg. And Umbrellas – which also starred Deneuve – is surely Beloved‘s biggest inspiration, also telling a star-crossed tale of bittersweet romance across a lifetime. Unfortunately, Beloved veers too wildly into the ‘bitter’ and the ‘sweet’, never quite syncing up into a totally satisfying final product.


Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Beloved plays the Perth International Arts Festival from November 28 to December 4. Click here for more details.

One Response to “Perth International Arts Festival – Beloved review”

  1. Brian Wills-Johnson Reply November 30, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    You must be kidding. I’ve never seen such a boring, narcissistic waste of two hours in my life. This is a film that said nothing about nothing for far too long. If it’s the ultimate festival film then, after three decades, count me out.

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