My Gay Paris: Les bien-aimés (Beloved), a French movie worth seeing!

If you can understand a little French, then going to see the French movie of the month could be an interesting idea. Going to the movies is a good way to experience Paris, and for that matter, going to see this specific movie in one of the temple of Paris’ love for non-conventional, anti-Hollywood pieces of work, the MK2 Beaubourg, just right next to Centre Pompidou, well-known for its careful selection of movies.

Les bien-aimés (Beloved) was chosen to close the last Festival de Cannes. Its director, Christophe Honoré, is a true ambassador of current French cinema, especially since he made the successful movie Les Chansons d’Amour (LoveSongs), which is, as Les bien-aimés is, a musical. One interesting feature of les bien-aimés is that it deals with the subject of love through multiple relationships, in various times and in various places: Paris and Prague in the 60′, Paris and London in the 90′. It is the story of Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier as the young Madeleine, film legend Catherine Deneuve as the ‘old’ but still good-looking Madeleine) and her daughter, which is indeed played by Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve’s daughter in real life. It is the first time the two have been featured together in that configuration.

Honoré is able to speak about difficult topics, such as AIDS, in a subtle way; but the film also echoes, since it is a musical, the performance of the young Catherine Deneuve in the 60’s musical Les parapluies de Cherbourg. The memories evoked here are truly powerful.

As she works in a shoe store in Paris in 1964, Madeleine decides to become a prostitute. She then falls in love with a client, a young man from Czechoslovakia, Jaromil, and she decides to move there. Even if things don’t work perfectly for them, the love which Jaromil was able to give her will be important for her throughout her whole life, and is embodied by their daughter, Vera. The film then moves forward to the 1990s and the 2000s to look at Vera’s life, and the one of her mother.

The careful choice of actors (such as Ludivine Sagnier and Louis Garrel), the wonderful depiction of the relationship between a mother and her daughter, the musical choices and the travel through time and space all make this film worth seeing while you stay in Paris. And you might want to check out the other movies playing at MK2 Beaubourg. So to see the trailer in english click here.

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