Dir/scr: Claude Lelouch. France. 2010. 115mins
Celebrating his 50th year as a filmmaker, irrepressible Claude Lelouch has packed enough narrative whistles and bells for half a dozen movies into his 43rd opus, Ces amours-la…. As besotted with cinema and cinematography as ever, Lelouch starts out with a Lumiere cameraman impregnating a daring Italian woman whose daughter, Ilva (Audrey Dana), will work as an usher at a Paris movie theatre en route to falling for a charismatic Nazi officer.
This episodic, but sincere, venture is 100% Lelouch.
Lelouch - who eluded the Gestapo as a boy by hiding in a cinema - unabashedly skims the entire 20th century through the life and loves of Ilva, whose lawyer’s oratory at her murder trial prompts too many interlocking flashbacks to count.
Lelouch delights in recreating the trenches of WWI, carnage of D-Day, cleaving of families at Auschwitz and frenetic post-war enthusiasm for jazz, with an unshakeable belief in two iconic songs sort of holding it all together. Jews, Nazis, rich boys, poor boys and the women who sleep with them all love music.
While kind of cute, Dana is no Jeanne Moreau circa Jules and Jim, one of the many classics Lelouch quotes via his story thread of two
American GI’s - one a black boxer, one a photojournalist-cum-heir -who parachute into Normandy with both falling for Ilva.
This episodic, but sincere, venture is 100% Lelouch, right up to a Lord of the Rings-calibre inability to stop tacking on endings. Viewers in the mood for fearless, careening, pastiche will get their money’s worth…others will get a headache.
Production companies: Les Films 13, Les Films du Kiosque, Studio 37, France 3 Cinema
International sales: Kinology
Producers: Claude Lelouch, François Kraus, Denis Pineau-Valencienne
Executive producers: Jean-Paul de Vidas
Screenplay: Claude Lelouch, Pierre Uytterhoeven
Cinematography: Gérard de Battista
Production designer: François Chavaud
Editor: Stéphane Mazalaigue
Music: Françis Lai, Laurent Couson
Main cast: Audrey Dana, Laurent Couson, Samuel Labarthe, Raphaël, Dominique Pinon, Jacky Ido, Gilles Lemaire, Anouk Aimée, Liane Foly, Zinedine Soualem