Aline (2022) – Movie Review

Posted by Eddie Pasa on April 8, 2022 in / No Comments

 

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Aline, Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films, GaumontAline, director/writer/star Valérie Lemercier’s fictional biography of singer Céline Dion, reminds me of the fictional restaurant McDowell’s and its namesake owner in John Landis’ 1988 film Coming to America. As Mr. McDowell himself puts it, “See, they’re McDonald’s… I’m McDowell’s. They got the Golden Arches; mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac; I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds.”

Lemercier condenses Dion’s life into an oddly-toned comedy-drama with all the depth of a Buzzfeed article, and she gets it all – the family, the career, the romance, and most importantly, almost every big hit Dion ever made. (Yes, you’re gonna hear that song in the movie.) But, like the aforementioned McDowell’s, the central character is named Aline Dieu, which translates from the French words for “Graceful and noble god.” It’s not that much of a metaphor, considering the way Lemercier reverently frames and plays Aline from childhood to adulthood.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Aline, Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films, GaumontTo see this movie tell it, Aline is made to be a savior of sorts. Her success eventually lifts her family out of poverty (to the film’s credit, this angle is given no significant drama or importance), and she eventually breaks through to the man she loves, her manager Guy-Claude Kamar (Sylvain Marcel), a twice-divorced man scared to love again. Well, he might be scared because Aline’s mother Sylvette (Danielle Fichaud) puts the fear of God into him, thinking she’s protecting Aline and making her focus on her career, not being in love with a man 26 years her senior.

If you’ve paid attention at all to Céline Dion’s life and where it’s taken her, you’ll know how it goes – the triumph and the heartbreak, the successes and setbacks. Aided by digital manipulation making her either younger or older, Lemercier nails all of Dion’s familiar characteristics – her physical presence and onstage nuances, speech patterns, and look. As part of this film’s comedy, she even plays Aline as a little girl, using forced perspective and CGI to make her look smaller than the adults surrounding her.

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Aline, Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films, GaumontThis digital futzing also tends to soften the implications of the relationship between Aline and Guy-Claude. If Aline were played by age-appropriate actors as a young girl meeting Guy-Claude for the first time and into her teenage years, we’d probably feel differently about what Lemercier shows to us. There’s no overt sexuality or sleazy behavior on Guy-Claude’s part, and Lemercier goes a long way to show us that Guy-Claude never acts out of any other motive except success for his client. Lemercier’s script lays the responsibility at Aline’s feet, showing us only Aline’s viewpoint of the relationship; it’s only after Aline reveals she’s in love that we see a difference in the way Guy-Claude looks at her with true love. Lust is never a concern; Lemercier paints this relationship as safe as possible, not wanting to ruffle any feathers or be the cause of impropriety.

She takes that same care in portraying the rest of Aline’s life, a kind of greatest hits package which gives us the tunes, saving the in-between parts for the liner notes you read while you’re listening to the CD. There’s little depth to the film, as we’re moved quickly between dots on Aline’s timeline. As Lemercier plays her from beginning to end and as there are no devices telling us what year it is or the years between childhood to teenage years to young adulthood to motherhood to being on top of the pop world, all of these pit stops in Aline’s life blend together, done so intentionally to keep us in more of a continuum than being visibly chaptered. (Diehard fans of Dion’s might have a better perspective, knowing the release dates of songs and real-life occurrences, though.)

DC Movie Critics, DC Movie Reviews, DC Film Critics, Eddie Pasa, Movie Critics, Film Critics, Movie Review, Film Review, Aline, Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films, GaumontAline follows a track similar in feel to Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born, complete with the emotional onstage ending. While Aline wants us to believe in the power of love (sorry, had to do it) and in Aline’s persistence, it just doesn’t hook us the way Lemercier wishes it would. Instead, it’s the equivalent of a Wikipedia entry brought to colorful and energetic life, bolstered by Lemercier’s solid performance and the songs which captivated radio listeners worldwide. Aline is comfortable existing only to show its subject in the best light possible, and that’s exactly how we’re to take it.

MPA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive material and brief language. In English and French with English subtitles. Running time: 128 minutes. Released by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

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Eddie Pasa

Eddie is a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Since starting in 2010 at The Rogers Revue, Eddie has written for Reel Film News (now defunct), co-founded DC Filmdom, and writes occasionally for Gunaxin. When not reviewing movies, he's spending time with his wife and children, repeat-viewing favorites on Blu-Ray, working for rebranding agency Mekanic, or playing acoustic shows and DJing across the DC/MD/VA area. Special thanks go to Jenn Carlson, Moira and Ari Pasa, Viki Nova at City Dock Digital in Annapolis, Mike Parsons, Philip Van Der Vossen, and Dean Rogers.

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