Singer, The (Quand J'Etais Chanteur) (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/10/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Opens London Film Festival: October 22nd

Enjoyable, bittersweet and ultimately moving drama with gorgeous photography and superb performances from Depardieu and de France.

What's it all about?
Gerard Depardieu stars as small-time lounge singer Alain Moreau, a committed professional who knows that karaoke is slowly killing his livelihood. When his friend Bruno (Mathieu Amalric) introduces him to a young, beautiful estate agent named Marion (Cecille de France), Alain sleeps with her and feels reawakened by the feelings she stirs in him.

However, Marion has emotional problems of her own and the two embark on a tentative relationship that's somewhere between a professional connection, a friendship and a romance.

The Good
Depardieu is wonderful as Alain, presenting him as an honest, discreet and painfully realistic character who really cares about his work, as opposed to the more obvious cliches of a washed-up, sleazy loser still dreaming of the big time. Cecille de France is a revelation as Marion – you can't take your eyes off her and there's powerful chemistry between her and Depardieu, particularly in the looks they give each other.

There's also strong support from ubiquitous French actor Mathieu Amalric (Munich) and Christine Citti as Michele, Alain's manager and ex-wife, who still harbours feelings for him.

The Great
Writer-director Xavier Giannoli's script is superb, layering in moments of humour and warmth and making some perceptive comments about career longevity for musicians. He also directs with an eye for amusing details, such as Alain's pet goat and portable sun-lamp.

The crystal clear, richly coloured photography is breath-takingly beautiful, courtesy of cinematographer Yorick Le Saux - if only all films looked like this. In addition, the songs are used brilliantly (Alain has a touching speech about the songs telling the truth) and there are some incredibly moving scenes, such as when Alain sings Save the Last Dance For Me.

Worth seeing?
This is an engaging, moving and refreshingly adult romance that avoids the usual cliches. Recommended.

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Content updated: 20/02/2019 10:31

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