Somerville House // 1984 // 107 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // January 14th, 2009
You can't dance to it.
The French have a word for it: ennuyeux.
That means boring.
In Elie Chouraqui's 1984 French drama-with-music, we are given the story of Jeremy (Christopher Lambert, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes) and Michel (Richard Anconina), who are trying to conquer the entertainment field by assaulting the world with pop songs so cringe-inducingly saccharine, they make the American Idol contestants sound edgy. In the meantime, our man-banders find love, of sorts. Michel hooks up with a married yet still available woman (Dayle Haddon, Spermula). They embark on a supportive relationship of restrained wackiness.
Poor Jeremy, however, has the misfortune to fall for the older and separated-yet-grieving Margaux (Catherine Deneuve, Repulsion), a music producer and mother of two pre-teen children. The main attraction here is that they have sex and she boots him out at 5 a.m. every day so that her kids don't find out she's entertaining itinerant musicians in Daddy's bed.
This hump-and-run schedule takes its toll on Jeremy, who falls asleep during auditions. This saves his potential employers the embarrassment of doing the same thing, but is causing problems between him and Michel.
Jeremy is facing a crossroads. It's Margaux or the music. And despite the fact that he and Margaux seem to have nothing to say to each other, nothing in common beyond a few dry kisses and the quickie horizontal limbo, and no discernable future, the lady seems to be winning.
Love Songs is an eye-wateringly tedious non-story with an unspeakable Michel LeGrand soft-pop soundtrack featured front and center. Can't place Michel LeGrand? If you've ever ridden an elevator, visited a dentist, or shopped at Lane Bryant, you're familiar with the music of Michel LeGrand. He won Oscars for "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair and for the scores for Summer of '42 and Yentl. To call his work on Love Songs "lesser" would be an understatement. Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" was an Elizabethan sonnet compared to:
"I wish they'd leave it to me.
I would fill this world with joy
A safer place for girls and boys."
For some reason, these Frenchmen insist on singing in English, so it's possible that this is just their badly translated way of expressing a deep thought.
Possible, but not probable.
(By the way, the case boasts that this is a "César-winning musical score by Michel LeGrand." Don't believe it. LeGrand was nominated for the French equivalent of an Oscar for this, but according to IMDb, the award went elsewhere. Good for the French.)
The actors, including -- surprisingly -- Deneuve, come off as bland and charmless. Deneuve's errant husband is played by American actor Nick Mancuso (Ticket to Heaven). He speaks English, she speaks French, and the subtitles jump back and forth between the two -- French when someone onscreen is speaking English, English when someone onscreen is speaking French.
Not a lot of care went into this disc. The film itself is dark, mostly shot indoors, and just not that interesting to look at, and the speckly full-frame transfer wouldn't show any film in its best light. Audio is unremarkable but gets the job done. Extras consist of the French trailer and a photo gallery.
This French trifle is not bad enough to be called a "bad" movie, but it's not interesting enough to recommend. If you're a Deneuve completist or a LeGrand fanatic, maybe.
Review content copyright © 2009 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Somerville House
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated