A sprawling, messy epic on unrequited love from French director Christophe Honoré
Christophe Honoré's Love Songs (2007) established a talent for musical melodrama that eschewed all the traditional razzle-dazzle trappings of Hollywood. Characters break into song as they casually stroll down a city street and the often banal conversational lyrics could have been written on a therapist's couch. Beloved develops that style with an elegiac tale of love and death that stretches across four decades and two continents.
In 1964, salesgirl Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier) credits a killer pair of Roger Vivier pumps for leading her into a life of part-time prostitution and into the arms of her first husband and true love Jaromil (Rasha Bukvic). Madeleine's youth is idolised by her daughter Vera (Chiara Mastroianni), a woman thwarted in her attempts to make meaningful emotional connections until she meets American drummer Henderson (Paul Schneider) who happens to be gay.
Beloved may incorporate global events like the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and the attacks on the Twin Towers but its focus remains on the affairs of the heart. It contrasts the seemingly carefree life of Madeleine with the more troubled existence of Vera and also suggests that they are emblematic of their times. The result is a sprawling, messily ambitious epic of unrequited love and unfulfilled hearts that is lent an added poignancy by the casting of Mastroianni's mother Catherine Deneuve as the older Madeleine and by all the cinematic ghosts that accompany her appearance.
General release from Fri 11 May.