One of the reasons why I love France is the possibility to meet some of the greatest film directors of our time without a pass to a fancy cinema festival green room. In fact you get to meet them in your towns cinema theaters, a five minute walk from your home. This, obviously familiar event to all french cinema goers is called an avant-première. And this time it was Claude Lelouch coming to town. Reason – his latest film.
Ces Amours Là is not only his last film, but a sort of celebration of 50 years of cinema. The atmosphere in the theater is not at all like it is on avant-premières – the public is waiting to see a master. Those over fifty expect to see the man who had accompanied them with his movies all their lives. You just can’t stay seated – when Lelouch passes through the aisles, the excitement and awe is electrifying the air. And what about the movie he’s presenting, you will finally ask. Unfortunately, it does not live up to the expectations. Despite the presence of the director, the passive reaction of public marks out clearly – the film is mediocre.
Writing these lines feels worse than usual – this film is a very personal and a very emotional creation for Lelouch. It tells a story of his family, and this story starts and ends with cinema. Using the words of director it is an ensemble of three big loves of his life – music, women and, of course, cinema. The love for the last one is very convincing – historical images, sequences from movies of history of cinema are present all the time. In the center of these three loves there is a woman – Ilva. These are also her love stories the movie tells. There are 4 in total – she falls in love too quickly, which does not make things too easy for her, because it is the Second World war. Her passions almost lead her to a shaved head, a punishment for collaborators. Broken hearts, United States of America and war scenes – it all is in the movie. Plus a wonderful music.
The problem starts at the point, where you understand that there are too many thing happening in the movie. And most of them are superficial. For example, few scenes are played so passionless, that you can’t really understand, what they were trying to tell with them. The real breaker for me was the scenes of war and concentration camps – it seems that Lelouch didn’t have his own vision, or opinion, how they should be shown. He just took those clichés which everyone has seen at least ten times, even not being a movie buff.
Though, Ces Amours Là will be very pleasant to your ears – jazzy tunes, many of them were written specially for the screen and performed live in front of the camera really sound great. Of course, these aren’t the famous Shaba-da-ba-da which people have been humming for many decades. Colours are flamboyant, and the set makes you think that this might be a visually perfect world we live in. Too perfect to be true! But the editing is truly marvelous! In this particular way of assembling the images Lelouch shows that his touch isn’t gone.
I am not aware of Claude Lelouch’s ideas for his next projects, but this movie had a taste of a last one. Perhaps, it is only because of its synthetic nature – speaking the words of the director, this film is a synthesis of 50 years of cinema.