The best compliment one can give French serial comedy filmmaker Valérie Lemercier’s “Aline,” a Celine Dion biopic in which Lemercier plays a fictionalized version of the pop star from childhood to widowhood, is that it evokes the disorientation of discovering the singer as she stood on her first album: a 13-year-old with snaggleteeth. The passion of the film is incredible – but, boy, is it embodied in something clumsy.
We hardly have time to adjust to the sight of the adult Lemercier shrunk to the size of a child by cinematic tricks, or we are forced to struggle with the nascent realization that this tribute is sincerely meant. “Aline” is no joke, even if the cinematography is as static as a Saturday Night Live skit. The director and her co-writer, Brigitte Buc, work efficiently through Dion’s timeline. Lemercier observes the singer, here renamed Aline Dieu, as she transitions from ballads strapped to her mother (Danielle Fichaud) to ballads centered on her Svengali and future husband (Sylvain Marcel), who is honestly presented as her one great love. Lemercier trots out Dion’s famed outfits and interviews, her 1998 Academy Awards performance of “My Heart Will Go On” and, when the action shifts to Dion’s Las Vegas residencies, she does a pretty good job through the star’s brash, unpredictable dance moves. to imitate.
All “Aline” needs are a point. The closest to one is Lemercier’s insistence that Dion was not only a larger-than-life icon, but also a mortal, with recognizable worries about her kids, her sleep schedule and, er, getting lost in her 40-room mansion. To this end, Lemercier opens and closes in a film packed with covers (sung beautifully by Victoria Sio) with “Ordinaire”, the song by Robert Charlebois: “I am not a circus freak”, her star sings and adds: “I’ I want like to be understood.”
Rated PG-13 for clemency notes of sexual situations and language. Running time: 2 hours 8 minutes. In theatres.