The pangs of love
by Domenico La Porta
04/07/2011 - Christophe Honoré closed the Out of Competition section of the 64th Cannes Film Festival among tears and music with Beloved [trailer, film focus], a bittersweet family melodrama whose actors sing, love and die.
In the 1960s, Madeleine (Ludivine Sagner), a young shop girl, prostitutes herself almost as if for sport, to round out her salary, when she meets a Czech doctor who with whom she has a child and who will become the love of her life.
In 2000, her daughter Véra (Chiara Mastroianni), a teacher, loves a fickle, indecisive, gay American. Her co-worker (Louis Garrel) is in love with her but, unable to return his feelings, Véra suffers a constant emotional deprivation.
Beloved looks at the lives of a mother and daughter, who both struggle with the same emotional wounds. When Madeleine – played as an adult by Catherine Deneuve – marries a gendarme (singer Michel Delpech), she continues to meet her Czech lover (played by the hilarious Milos Forman) for trysts in hotels, giving in to moments of happiness that she will later have to pay for.
As in Love Songs [trailer], the music was written by Alex Beaupain, who this time composed them specifically for the screenplay. Deneuve once again enjoyed singing her own songs, as she did for Jacques Demy in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, with the added pleasure of singing with her daughter, Mastroianni.
Beloved is not exactly a musical comedy, for the songs are not all that frequent and the story could easily be told without them. But the musical moments add a poetic note that emphasises a rich and sentimental text.
At the film’s press conference, the director said he chose to alternate the 1960s with today in order to compare the loves lives of his generation with those of his parents’. He daydreamed about his parents’ love, the lightness of which seems missing from today’s relationships.
The film perfectly conveys a sense of emotional divide and constant confusion, before giving in to the fires of passion: that light that makes teary eyes shine, and that warmth that dries the tears of unrequited love, which we have all felt, or come across, in our lives.