9 October 2016 | PoppyTransfusion
Isabelle sings ...
And that is what matters.
This is an unapologetic 'feel good' film, which could fall into being saccharine but for Isabelle Huppert's fine performance as actress and chanteuse. The film wishes to recall the musicals from Hollywood's classic era in a decidedly modern way. e.g. with mobile telephones.
The premise is that Liliane (Huppert) was once a rising singer, whose stage name was Laura, until her marriage to her manager fell apart. Afterwards she withdrew into such obscurity that no one would guess a pate packer was once a rising star who represented France in the Eurovision song contest.
Enter a young man, Jean, who is considerably younger than Lilian but who remembers Laura because his dad was a devotee and Jean knows all her songs. When he confronts Liliane she denies being Laura initially but eventually she admits her former existence. After a one-off performance for Jean's boxing club, Liliane - and Jean - find it hard to return Laura to obscurity and so begins a tale of desire, unlikely love and lost ambition.
The story all makes sense when viewed through the eyes of a 1930's audience whose desire for wish fulfilment would be unconcerned with plausibility. To enjoy the film it helps to place realism to one side and follow fantasy and yearning especially when it beckons in the form of Huppert singing love songs with specific hand/arm choreography and costumed in resplendent dresses.
Isabelle Huppert did her own singing to music from Pink Martini and lyrics co-written by the director and producer. Her moments on screen singing are some of the best. Is there nothing this woman cannot do? The best way to enjoy this film is when you need a tonic, a pick me up because life is being punchy. It is, as the director said, a "Sunday afternoon" film.