Friday, 22 April 2011

What War May Bring: Elegiac! Exuberant! Exhilarating!

Veteran French film maker Claude Lelouch's song to life, just loved it!

While Ces amours-là may be his latest offering, it could well be his first, as it lays and clarifies - while not being really autobiographical, Lelouch confesses that he made it with fragments of reality, of memories, of life he has either witnessed or been a protagonist, such as the kiss filmed in the last scene - the foundations of many of his films such as that 1966 classic Un Homme et Une Femme. What War May Bring is an homage not only to 50 years of making romantic films, but to cinema itself and, last but not least, to people's endurance to the harshness and tribulations of war.

A Fellinesque aura to it, Ces amours-là is a story across three generations of a family, with a war thrown into it. As such, it is not really a war film, but war plays a big part in it, those scenes being both spectacular, humorous in parts, but always with a very tender eye cast on them. It charts the turbulent story of Ilva Lemoine (Audrey Dana), daughter of an Italian porn actress and prostitute and a cinematographer killed in the trenches of WW1, a woman whose only sin was to fall too easily in love, and to survive, in a war torn Europe. We first see her in the dock accused of murder, her pianist turned attorney and Auschwitz survivor's (Laurent Couson) spirited defence leading to her acquittal.

We then see her with a law student (Raphaël), her first and last lover, while going to plead to a cabaret owner turned German officer (Samuel Labarthe) in the Paris of 1942 for the life of her stepfather (Dominique Pinon, of Micmacs, Alien: Resurrection, The City of Lost Children, Delicatessen), a projectionist at the Eden Palace who has been condemned to be shot the following day at dawn together with 19 others as a reprisal for the murder of two SS officers in a Metro station. What she did not know is, by doing so, she actually condemned him to death anyway, as the Resistance thought he had grassed on them after his miraculous release.

After the Allies enter into Paris, in a storyline reminiscent of the Truffaut of Jules et Jim, she fell for two American GIs, Bob (Jacky Ido), a black former boxer who saved the live of Jim Singer (Gilles Lemaire) as they were parachuted into Normandy. Jim is a rich boy, heir to the Singer fortune, turned war photographer. When working as a usherette in the cinema, she was confronted by a vindictive mob accusing her of being a collaborator, being saved in the subsequent melee by Bob and Jim. She attempts to rebuild her life, moving to America with Jim, but the guilt about Bob's death in the Eastern European front leads to its failure.

Ces amours-là ends as it began, two generations of the family, an elderly Ilva (veteran and marvellous actress Anouk Aimée) and her daughter, a brilliant lawyer herself, watching Ilva's son direct the first film score he has composed, the two strands of the family, music and the law being reproduced. If anything, the film could be criticized by glossing over the darker side of guilt.

Lelouch has been, is, the eternal optimist of French cinema, Ces amours-là is no exception. It is an exuberant, exhilarating and elegiac homage to the romance of cinema, to music, to our capacity to endure tragedy, with a Fellinesque touch to it. A very Gallic affair, indeed.

Director: Claude Lelouch
Writers: Claude Lelouch, Pierre Uytterhoeven
Cast: Audrey Dana, Dominique Pinon, Jacky Ido, Gilles Lemaire, Samuel Labarthe, Raphaël, Anouk Aimée,

DVD & Blu-ray to be released in the UK on May 2nd, 2011

To buy or order at Amazon please click HERE

Distributed by Revolver Entertainment

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