With Aline, Valérie Lemercier tries something new: the fan biopic [critique]

Valérie Lemercier unveils her true-false biopic of Celine Dion in Cannes, out of competition.

Aline should have been released at the end of last year, but the film has been postponed to November 10, 2021, following the winter 2020 reconfinement. Valerie Lemercier has just presented it on the Croisette, out of competition, we share our review published in issue 512, with David Fincher on the cover.

Valérie Lemercier: “Aline is a vision both faithful and fantasized of Celine Dion”

A ” right wrong “ portrait of Celine Dion? Far from the expected irony, Valérie Lemercier invents a form of mutant biopic, somewhere between hagiography, postmodern 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 (childlike 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 Celine Dion’s journey (renamed Aline Dieu), Valérie Lemercier tries 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-mockery, the most laid-back of divas, and because Quebecers are one of the least cultural peoples. tightly packed planet.

A CREATURE OF ITSELF. To tell the truth, Valérie Lemercier does not land completely in unknown territory. We could almost see his film as a mainstream reformulation, cut for French multiplexes and TF1 prime time, queer essays 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 5 in the opening scenes of the film, it’s not just a nod to her parody of The Fan School with Les Dulls, 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 Closer suddenly took on a mythological dimension.

TROUP FILM. Valérie Lemercier is such a fan of Celine Dion that she seems moreover almost intimidated to play her, sometimes as absent from her own film, refusing the idea of ​​a performance à la Jérémie “Cloclo” Renier. The surprisingly straight musical scenes 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 troop film, Valérie Lemercier avoids the pitfall of idolatrous delirium. And invite everyone to play with it.

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