Has a director ever gone so 180 as Honore, last seen offering the inside-out Dans Paris. Love Songs, his third and weakest film, builds on an endlessly-trampled possibility: Is it conceivable to have a relationship with three people where everyone happily coexists? As always, there's a couple at the middle, Ismaël (Louis Garrel) and Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), who are happy and in love but want to try their luck with another person. Enter Alice (Regular Lovers' Clotilde Hesme), a co-worker of Ismaël's. Alice and Julie fool around, and so do Alice and Ismaël, but Julie is unsatisfied with the experiment, which might explain why she shares the news with her entire family.
When tragedy strikes, quick and out of nowhere, Ismaël begins to unravel and loses his faith in the whole "love" thing. Alice steps into a relationship with a random bar fellow as Ismaël wallows around his apartment. A shock to the system comes in the guise of Alice's brother Erwann (a lively Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet), a young college student who likes to leap and prance around in his underwear in front of forlorn Ismaël. But Erwann endures, enraptured by the lovesick Parisian who used to be seeing his sister. It's in the middle of this seduction that Alice gets wind of Erwann's intentions.
For an easy comparison, Love Songs is Once without the melodrama and the self-seriousness. Honore's frivolous nature, oddly enough, contests for both its charm and its ultimate failure. There's nothing here to really care about, and the 14 musical numbers, a delightful bunch of tunes penned by composer Alex Beaupain, are constructed as digressions rather than part of the narrative. Simply put, Honore is far too good at making things likable to make them lovable.
On the other hand, there's something brisk and engaging about the unpretentiousness of Songs' sexual politics. Sexuality takes on an amorphous quality in Honore's world, the result being an inability to pigeonhole it as a "gay" or "straight" movie. The fluidity with which Garrel, playing a lesser version of the object of desire he embodies in Valerie Bruno-Tedeschi's upcoming and fantastic Actresses, drifts from the idea of being happy with two girls to the idea of being in love with one guy is the film's sole act of wonder.
Aka Les Chansons d'amour.
What's not to love?
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 23rd May 2007
Distributed by: IFC First Take
Production compaines: Alma Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 22
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Christopher Honore
Producer: Paulo Branco
Screenwriter: Christopher Honore
Starring: Louis Garrel as Ismaël Bénoliel, Ludivine Sagnier as Julie Pommeraye, Chiara Mastroianni as Jeanne, Clotilde Hesme as Alice, Brigitte Roüan as La mère de Julie, Alice Butaud as Jasmine, la soeur de Julie, Jean-Marie Winling as Le père de Julie, Yannick Rénier as Gwendal, Annabelle Hettmann as La serveuse du bar, Esteban Carvajal-Alegria as L'ami d'Erwann (as Esteban Carvajal Alegria), Sylvain Tempier as Un policier, Guillaume Clérice as Un policier, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet as Erwann