CANNES, France — The Cannes Film Festival is supposed to be a holy temple of cinema, a spot the place sober works from probably the most revered administrators have their first unveiling. But every now and then, one thing utterly off-kilter sneaks via, a movie so in contrast to something at Cannes that it feels misplaced … that’s, till it steers into its eccentricities so laborious that it by some means boomerangs again into auteurism.
These out-of-left-field motion pictures usually find yourself being my favourite experiences of the competition, and that’s why I’ve obtained to let you know about “Aline,” a wild Celine Dion biopic that screened at Cannes on Tuesday night time and lowered the viewers to giggles. Let me simply get this out of the best way: I’m nonetheless reeling from the immediately iconic resolution of the movie’s 57-year-old actress-director Valérie Lemercier to play Celine Dion at all ages of her life, together with as a 5-year-old little one.
You see a whole lot of nervy issues at Cannes, however this certainly takes the cake.
“Aline” begins with a little bit of a disclaimer, because the opening title card declares: “This film is inspired by the life of Celine Dion. It is, however, a work of fiction.” That’s why, although the story follows practically each ingredient of Dion’s life beat for beat, the primary character is as an alternative named Aline Dieu and most of Dion’s best-known songs proved not possible to get the rights to. (Yes, “30 Rock” followers, we’re coping with a Jackie Jormp-Jomp state of affairs right here.)
Like Dion, Aline is born into a big Quebec household the place she is the youngest of 14 kids. Her public debut as a singer comes early: At 5, Aline takes the stage at her brother’s wedding ceremony and lets unfastened with an uncannily highly effective singing voice. Dion did that, too, however I’m going to guess there was one essential distinction in actual life: When 5-year-old Celine sang at that wedding ceremony, she wasn’t sporting the face of an AARP-eligible grownup.
Shrunk to Hobbit dimension and Facetuned into near-oblivion, Lemercier scampers, preens and unnerves. I’ve by no means seen something fairly prefer it: Not “PEN15,” not John C. Reilly at the start of “Walk Hard,” not even a completely grown Martin Short enjoying a psychotic 10-year-old in “Clifford.” As a cinematic presence, Preteen Aline appears much less like our fundamental character and extra like she’s able to terrorize Vera Farmiga within the subsequent “Conjuring” film.
Why didn’t they only forged an precise child? I’m instructed that as a French comic, Lemercier has usually performed kids, however “Aline” takes this shtick a number of steps too far: The film is like “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the event that they shrank Rami Malek and made him play his personal enamel. Have you seen these Twitter prompts that ask you to reimagine a traditional movie with one character changed by a Muppet? “Aline” jogged my memory of that, besides the primary character is the Muppet and as an alternative of felt, she is created from your nightmares.
You could also be considering, “Well, surely this insane 5-year-old portion of the movie doesn’t last very long.” You’re proper, as a result of the film does finally age Aline up … to 12. Here, Lemercier performs Aline as a gawky introvert thrust into fame after she indicators with a supervisor, Guy-Claude Kamar (Sylvain Marcel). The character is predicated on Dion’s personal producer-manager, René Angélil, whom she met as a preteen and finally married, and Lemercier frames that problematic pairing as Aline’s best aspiration in life.
Practically talking, meaning we’re watching a 57-year-old play a 12-year-old with a crush on her 40-year-old supervisor. I simply don’t know what to do with any of that! Every time Aline’s mom tries to sever the union, declaring that Guy-Claude is much too outdated for Aline, I felt like my mind was short-circuiting.
Credit…Jean-Marie Leroy/Rectangle Productions/TF1 Films Production
Is Lemercier attempting to sanction the romance by enjoying Aline herself, suggesting that the younger lady was merely an outdated soul? I’m unsure that tracks, since by the point Aline has grow to be an grownup (which is when she and Guy-Claude lastly consummate their relationship), Lemercier remains to be enjoying her as a sugar-loving, childlike diva.
Eventually, you simply need to give up to the absurdity of “Aline,” and at least that humorousness generally comes from a realizing place, like when Aline begins her residency in Las Vegas and will get misplaced within the large mansion she simply purchased. After the movie’s central romance is resolved within the first hour, “Aline” merely skims Dion’s grownup life for stand-alone episodes: She’s selecting a costume for the Oscars! She’s taking fertility remedies! Guy-Claude has a ponytail now!
But even the movie’s extra easy dramatic scenes are nonetheless tinged with a little bit of madness. It nearly can’t be helped: After you’ve sat via a half-hour of Preteen Aline, nothing feels regular anymore.
And possibly that’s the best way “Aline” should be. Cultural figures hardly get extra mainstream than Celine Dion, however even her largest followers would admit that the girl exudes pure camp. I can’t clarify half of the directorial selections made in “Aline,” however at least they’re so goofy and distinctive that I’ll be enthusiastic about them for years to return. Palme d’Or be damned: In an period the place musical biopics are more and more disposable, I do know that “Aline” will go on and on.