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on December 25, 2012
Director Christophe Honore has created his epic with "Beloved": a 2.5 hour intergenerational story of love and infidelity, with major French cinema stars, done in his signature style of movie musical. Approaching this as a fan of French cinema but not necessarily an Honore fan, I think there is much at which he succeeds. He beautifully recreates the street scenes, fashions and mores of Paris and Prague in the 1960s, as well as the decades which follow. He gets strong performances from most of his cast. The storyline, up until the end, is plausible and conveys several messages about the nature of love. However, what prevented the film from being a great one for me is one flat performance from one of his stars, and an overreaching event in the plot towards the end that left me feeling that Honore, as he did in "Love Songs", tries to do a bit too much.

Honore immediately captured my attention with the opener, a hypnotic sequence of colorful women's shoes and high fashion that whirls across the screen while a sexy female voice sings a French version of Nancy Sinatra's hit "These Boots Are Made For Walking", proving yet again that everything sounds better in French than in English. Ludivine Sagnier takes over from there and spins her magic, enticing men on the screen (and in the audience) into her web. However, her primary relationship soon runs into difficulties, conveying a theme that is repeated throughout "Beloved": monogamy is impossible, and people should just accept that fact and behave accordingly. Figuring out whom they love and whom they should love is a challenge for most of the characters in "Beloved", but those characters who don't overreact when any one particular relationship has difficulties are the happiest.

Sagnier does a great job as the young Madeleine, but when the movie clock fast forwards several decades and the older Madeleine is portrayed by Catherine Deneuve, the film suffers a bit. I found Deneuve's performance to be flat, as though she were mostly walking through her scenes. By contrast the rest of the cast immerses themselves in their characters and I never felt with them, as I did with Deneuve, that I was watching an actor attempt to portray a character. Especially impressive were Sagnier, Chiara Mastroianni and Milos Forman.

The other flaw of "Beloved" is the plot event towards the end between the characters portrayed by Mastroianni and American Paul Schneider, which I felt to be a drastic overreaction by Mastroianni's character Vera. The two have a complicated relationship, and Honore creates a problem for himself when he introduces these complexities into the plot. Even though the movie is 2.5 hours long, there isn't enough time to explain all that is needed to understand these characters' actions, especially Vera's.

But the positives outweigh the negatives in "Beloved", and the result is a mostly enjoyable experience with several high points. I wasn't particularly captivated by the original songs in "Beloved", but Honore does a great job with well-known songs that he uses in the film, in particular the aforementioned one as well as a slow, offbeat version of "Who Do You Love". "Beloved" is a long riff on the joys and challenges of interpersonal relationships, and shows how the times have changed and relationships along with them.
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on December 13, 2012
Let's get the hard part out of the way: Most Americans are going to hate this movie, so don't waste your time watching it and our time reading about how much you hate it. It's a very serious, complex, slow-moving (almost 2½ hours long, with no more than ten seconds of action), lyrical movie about messed up people who break into song at nearly every opportunity; and they're not typical American show tunes, or hip-hop, or rock in any form at all. Even when some of the lyrics are in English, the songs sound French, and I'm sure to 80% of American ears they all sound the same. Unless that prospect intrigues you, or you're already a Christophe Honoré fan, look elsewhere. You won't like this movie. You'll probably hate this movie. You've been warned - you have no excuse now for watching it and then telling us all how much you hate it.

Now for the easy part, because now I'm talking to people who either already love Christophe Honoré's movies or are open-minded and curious enough to give them a shot. Beloved (thank God they've set that wonderful title free from Oprah's maudlin clutches) fits perfectly in line after his marvelous Love Songs and haunting Beautiful Person. Each movie in that trio is more complex than the last, and each one is better than almost any movie made by anybody else. Love Songs, especially, has continued to send unexpected waves of joy rolling my way since I first watched it (I just realized) exactly three years ago today.

Love Songs is special to me in part because the core relationship in it is between two men (I'm gay), and it's probably the sexiest, most beautifully realized gay relationship I've ever seen in a movie. One of the leads in Beloved is gay, but none of the core relationships (there are several - as I said, it's more complex) in this movie is gay. I thought that would be a turn-off, but it's not, and here's why: Chiara Mastroianni.

I've seen Mastroianni before (she has a supporting role in Love Songs), and I've even seen her act with her mother (Catherine Deneuve) before, in André Téchiné's My Favorite Season nearly 20 years ago. I've never seen her carry a whole movie before, as she does this one - and she's fantastic.

She and the gay man connect, sort of - as much as any two people in this complicated movie connect. Normally I'd really hate that, because I'm so sick of gay men in movies hooking up with women I could pull my hair out. But she's so good in this movie - her Véra is such an appealing and interesting character - that I don't mind. Getting to see how good SHE (Mastroianni) is is worth it.

The rest of the cast is great too. Deneuve gets earthier and more accessible every time I see her, which is good because I couldn't stand the Ice Princess she played for the first several decades of her long career. Either she's opened up a lot in the last 15 years or so or directors are finally discovering how good she is playing other kinds of roles.

Louis Garrel, Ludivine Sagnier (both also in Love Songs), Paul Schneider (an American actor I'd never seen before), and Czech director Milos Forman in an acting role for the first time that I've seen - all are very good.

But the star of any Christophe Honoré movie, for me, is Christophe Honoré himself. He takes conventional movie elements - comedy, drama, romance, character study, music, song and others - and weaves them together in fresh and unconventional ways that yet never seem forced or precocious. I wouldn't try to explain anything he does because I wouldn't know how to. All I know to do with his movies is relax, let go, and let him take me for a ride. It's always worth the risk.
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on May 1, 2013
Beloved is a great French musical movie with my favorite actress Catherine Denueve and her daughter. Chiara Mastroianni and Ludvine Sagnier
Beloved ( Les Bien Aimes) is a sweeping heartfelt story set against the transcontinental. Political. And social upheavals of four decades. All set by the beautiful songs sung by the wonderful cast. I t is an awesome musical movie.
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on March 29, 2013
This is a brilliant movie with the best of France - the beautiful Catherine Deneuve and her daughter are wonderful together.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon August 22, 2014
Beloved is a strange beautiful film. This is the first musical that isn't corny. The musical portions move the story along and are more like night club poetry slams than the typical dancing and Broadway music production.

There is a lot going on in this film. There is the somewhat straightforward story of the mother Madeline. Third person narration by Madeline as an older woman foretells what will happen later on in the film - adding a layer of mystery. Catherine Deneuve plays the older Madeline and has a distinctive voice. Then overlay periodic musical moments between two characters. And finally the future comes back to watch the past. It all makes for an interesting film.

Beloved is a much more successful and a well put together film than Christophe Honore's horrible earlier attempt at a musical, Love Songs. Some of the same cast is Beloved.

The film is not rated. It is presented in French, English, and Czechoslovakian with English subtitles. There is male and female nudity in the film with a number of bedroom scenes. There is strong language and a little bit of violence. The film would probably be rated R.

The film moves along at a wonderful pace until about three quarters of the way to the end. The last ten or fifteen minutes redeems the film from losing its way. It is a long film at two hours and twenty minutes.
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on May 24, 2014
I absolutely love this movie! The songs are catchy and the plot is moving. As always, Catherine Deneuve is fantastic :)
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on January 21, 2015
I found this film to be more tragic than lighthearted, despite the way it starts out. The story gets deeper as it unfolds and is a beautiful tribute to unrequited love. I was moved by every character and found myself caring for them all. And I loved the arc of the film, and how unexpected every event and every scene was. The timeless beauty of Deneuve and her stunning real-life daughter, Chiara Mastroiani, carries the film, but there is much more to the story than their sheer luminosity and acting chops. This is the antithesis of most formulaic American moviemaking; you either love it or hate it. I loved it.
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on June 12, 2013
Cliché characters and obvious situations do not make an interesting movie. The biggest disappointment was the music. Cast may be famous in France but do they possess musical talent.? What a letdown.
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on June 9, 2013
No funny as depicted and the good actresses were lost on such a weak story.
The quality of the DVD is fine.
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on June 28, 2014
It was funny and sad movie. How sad that the daughter fell in love and wanted a child with a gay guy.
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