‘Beloved’ Movie Review
I never had a teenager’s obsession with all things French, perhaps because a family vacation to France when I was young protected me from any romantic, Parisian delusions, but I’ve always been interested in French cinema. That is to say, I’ve been interested in how the same movie can be made over and over again without only slight differences in cigarette brands, pastry types and maybe the reasoning behind the main character’s terminal ennui.
The new film, Beloved, seemed like it might make me have to rethink this preconception…at least for the first twenty minutes. It was light and cute with a bubbly shopgirl hooking to pay for shoes. But everything quickly went downhill, descending into 115 more minutes of bare buttocks, ashtrays and really depressed people breaking out into sad songs that made me long for a good slasher film where something actually happens and no one sings about it.
Yes, Beloved, starring the legendary Catherine Deneuve and her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, is a musical that tells the story of a mother and daughter who can’t seem to get love right. Starting in the 1960’s when Deneuve’s Madeleine prositutes herself on the streets of Paris, the film meanders through the Russian invasion of Prague, the height of the AIDS crisis and winds up on September 11th, of all places, and none of these very weighty historical events seem worthy of the tale.
Unable to find happiness in love because her parents never did, Mastroianni’s Vera turns to an obsessive affair with a gay American drummer who inexplicably finds her intensely attractive, but proceeds to make her life totally miserable. Madeleine can hardly offer her daughter advice, given that she’s spent her life married to one man, but still in love with Vera’s father, so if anyone is looking to find any gems of wisdom within this film, I would advise looking elsewhere.
To say that this movie is depressing would be as unnecessary as saying that petit fours are fattening. Perhaps that’s what fans of French cinema like…long, sad gazes through a cloud of smoke, half-naked bodies lounging in post-coital poses, and endless walks through the streets of Paris and Prague, London and Montreal. If you, instead, like your movies to have some sort of a plot with characters who don’t make you want to ingest an entire bottle of Zoloft, then this film is not for you.
Beloved opens in limited release on August 17th.