Aline: Valérie Lemercier invents a form of mutant biopic [critique]

A “true-false” portrait of Celine Dion? Far from the expected irony, Valérie Lemercier signs an endearing film between hagiography, post-modern pastiche and fan letter.

Everyone hates biopics. The genre may well have produced masterpieces (Raging Bull), popular triumphs (The kid), little classics (Walk the line), it may well be worth every year wheelbarrows of Oscars to its make-up and wiggly performers, we all automatically pinch our noses when it comes to biographical pictures. It must be said that their dramatic conventions (childish trauma – ascension – glory – big slack and / or tragic death) are boring and that most of them are commercial enterprises of a frightening cynicism. For a Ed wood, how much iron Lady and of Grace of Monaco ? With Aline, both scrupulous and totally fanciful evocation of Céline Dion’s journey (renamed Aline Dieu), Valerie Lemercier try something new: the fan biopic. A declaration of love, a frozen letter sent by a midinette assumed to her idol. Lemercier tells and plays Aline / Céline as others take the stage of a transformist cabaret disguised as Dalida, Sylvie Vartan or Mylène Farmer, in a gesture where fetishism, illusionism and pure devotion mingle. She embodies it with a smile on her face, yes, but never mocking or ironic. If she does it while messing around, it’s because Celine Dion, after all, is herself the queen of self-deprecation, the most laid-back of divas, and that Quebecers are one of the less ass-tight peoples. of the planet.

To tell the truth, Valérie Lemercier does not land completely in unknown land. We could almost see his film as a reformulation mainstream, designed for French multiplexes and TF1 prime-time, tests queer by Todd Haynes around David Bowie (Velvet Goldmine), Bob Dylan (I’m not there) or Karen Carpenter (Super star). Lemercier takes up the dollhouse side, the confusion between legend and reality, and the claim of a taste for freaks and the beautiful bizarre. When she plays Aline at age five in the opening scenes of the film, it’s not just a nod to her parody of The fan school with Dummies, but a way of saying, with the help of a funny special effect, how children who are born with a voice like Celine Dion’s are creatures apart, condemned to evolve like aliens in the middle of ordinary people. From there, the film sets out to describe a life of showbiz madness in a very prosaic way, like a straightforward version of A Star is born : the visit to the dentist in order to become an international star, the time it takes to leave the stage at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and arrive home on time to say goodnight to the children, the difficulty of finding the way to the bathroom when you live in a palace… Sketches linked together by the love story between Aline and her pygmalion René (sorry, Guy-Claude), depicted as a magnificent love story, a pop fable legendary. As if reading Close suddenly took on a mythological dimension.

Valérie Lemercier is such a fan of Celine Dion that she also seems almost intimidated to play her, sometimes as absent from her own film, refusing the idea of ​​a performance à la Jérémie “Cloclo” Renier. The musical scenes, surprisingly straight, lack madness. But this restraint has the advantage of leaving the field open to a fantastic band of Canadian actors unknown in our latitudes (Danielle Fichaud, Sylvain Marcel, Roc LaFortune…) who give the film its extra soul. Also considering Aline like a troupe film, Valérie Lemercier avoids the pitfall of idolatrous delirium. And invite everyone to play with it.

By Valérie Lemercier. With Valérie Lemercier, Sylvain Marcel, Danielle Fichaud… Duration 2:03. Release November 10, 2021

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