If the great movie musicals of yesteryear put a song in your heart, Christophe Honorés Love Songs leaves you with a funny taste in your mouth. How else to describe Honorés orally fixated post-postmodern operetta, whose libretto includes lyrics like Keep your saliva as an antidote/Let it trickle like sweet venom down my throat? Those bon mots are sung by Alice (Clotilde Hesme), a sprightly Parisian newspaper worker, to her colleague Ismaël (Louis Garrel)two-thirds of a ménage-à-trois rounded out by the ill-fated Julie (Ludivine Sagnier). Round and round the bedroom they go, coupling and tripling in various permutations, including the seduction of ostensibly hetero Ismaël by a blond high-school gay boy. Styled, very consciously, by Honoré in the minimalist musical tradition of the French New Wave (and Jean-Luc Godards bed-hopping A Woman Is a Woman in particular), Love Songs has been stripped of everything but its pastiche, as if Pulp Fiction had wandered into Jack Rabbit Slims and never left. The actorsespecially Garrel, once more doing his preening, neoJean-Pierre Léaud routinewink and nod at the audience when theyre not sulking about in cooler-than-thou ennui, nulling any investment we might feel in their assorted trysts. That Honoré knows a lot about movies is beyond questionbut from first frame to last, Love Songs stays as icy to the touch as one of its characters premature corpse.
Christophe HonoréLouis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier, Clotilde Hesme, Chiara Mastroianni, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Brigitte Roüan, Jean-Marie Winling, Alice Butaud, Yannick Renier, Esteban Carvajal-AlegriaChristophe Honoré, Gaël MorelPaulo BrancoIFC First Take