Written and directed by Christophe Honoré
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Ludivine Sagnier, Rasha Bukvic, Louis Garrel, Milos Forman
In Arnaud Desplechin’s splendid 2008 comedy-drama “A Christmas Tale,” the luminous, earthy Catherine Deneuve and her mercurial real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni, playing an elegant matriarch and her impetuous daughter-in-law, projected an astonishing on-screen chemistry. Deneuve and Mastroianni work a similar miracle in Christophe Honoré’s “Beloved,” in which they play a pragmatic, part-time prostitute and her emotionally volatile daughter.
But the spoiler here is that Christophe Honoré is no Arnaud Desplechin. Working from his own screenplay, the director starts his story in sixties Paris, where Ludivine Sagnier, playing a wannabe Marilyn Monroe shopgirl who learns how to turn tricks, marries one of her johns, moves with him to Prague (where he proves to be flauntingly unfaithful), becomes a mom (albeit one who still knows how to walk a street), splits from her husband and then weds a rock-solid dullard.
By the time we get to nineties London, Ludivine Sagnier has morphed into Catherine Deneuve, to whom she bears no resemblance whatsoever. And when Sagnier’s first hubby—played by the trim and handsome Rasha Bukvic—reappears, he is, believe it or not, played by director Milos Forman, who seems to have dropped down from a distant planet, or perhaps just a local cuckoo’s nest.
I might have found all of this easier to digest had sizeable chunks of dialogue not been arbitrarily delivered in a drab, joyless kind of talk/song trance. (Music and lyrics by Alex Beaupain, who provided the same service for Honoré’s 2007 film “Love Songs.”) Also, I could have done without the footage of Manhattan’s Twin Towers on 9/11. I had already gotten the message that we were by now in a whole new, if not saner, century.--GUY FLATLEY