Writer-director Christophe Honoré revisits the musical—the genre of his biggest stateside hit, Love Songs (2007)—in Beloved, a sprawling mess of multiple romantic triangles in which all the angles are obtuse. Era-spanning (the film opens in 1963 and closes in 2007) and globe-hopping (scenes take place in Paris, Prague, London, and Montreal), Beloved boils down to the love lives of two women: Madeleine (played in her youth by Love Songs alum Ludivine Sagnier and in her prime by Catherine Deneuve) and her daughter, Vera (Honoré regular Chiara Mastroianni, Deneuve's real-life offspring). "If it weren't for those Roger Vivier pumps, Mom would never have become a whore," Vera proudly recalls of her mother's early part-time profession in voiceover, freelance work that led to her parents' initial meeting. The remark typifies the film's lazy, dumb nostalgia and lands with the same thud as most of the songs' lyrics (a typical line: "London calling—but who I can't say"). Honoré saves his worst decisions for Beloved's second half, as Vera, unable to shake her ex Clément (Louis Garrel, whose now-beyond-unbearable presence is mandatory in all of the director's films), falls for the gay Henderson (Paul Schneider)—a masochistic arrangement that culminates in jaw-dropping 9/11-sploitation.
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