Mega-superstars Cher and Madonna are currently in the process of directing biopics of their lives, with the latter putting some of Hollywood’s most promising young talent through a rigorous casting process. The two of them have led extraordinary lives that deserve to be the subject of not just one, but several biopics. In a similar vein, Celine Dion, the Canadian icon, treasure, and unofficial queen, has lived a life that deserves to be documented on the big screen. Her life story was once the topic of a television biopic that received positive reviews. Of course, it was just not memorable to a bigger audience, as is the case with many television biopics. Then there’s Aline. A convincing case may be made for why stars should have greater control over biopics of their lives in an unauthorised, fictionalised biopic of Dion’s life, which is now in production. Valérie Lemercier, dubbed “the Kristen Wiig of France,” felt inspired by her admiration for Celine Dion to co-write (with Brigitte Buc), direct, and star in a biopic of the singer’s life, which she completed in 2012. Ultimately, the outcome is a perplexing and perplexing muddle that is either designed to make viewers laugh or is dead serious in its pursuit of its objectives. Viewers must determine which intentions are the most real for them, regardless of what the filmmakers intend.
Based on Dion’s life, Aline follows Aline Dieu, the youngest of a big Québécois family who is raised by her aunt and uncle. Aline shines brightly with a sparkling voice at a very young age, and she has a lot of potential. Dion becomes an international sensation after attracting the notice of music manager Guy-Claude Kamar (played by Sylvain Marcel and partially modelled on Dion’s late spouse René Angélil), who is played by Sylvain Marcel. The film begins with a disclaimer stating that certain names and events have been changed for the sake of continuity. In general, however, the film is an authentic portrayal of Dion’s life, including her infatuation with her considerably older manager, who started working with her when she was 12 years old.
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Lemercier portrays Aline/Celine at every period of her life, beginning with her youth and continuing to the present. It is an odd choice, one that will either have one laughing with hilarity as the very much grown Lemercier unconvincingly plays pre-teen Aline, or one that will have one crying with sadness. As Aline progresses, the film seeks to persuade audiences to accept Lemercier’s reduced frame and visibly de-aged computer-generated visage (that fails to do any actual de-aging). Audiences are confronted with the realisation that this is a film that has been sloppily put together from several sources. In the years since Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was released, no biopic has been able to overcome the scathing smackdown that it received, and biopics have since managed to entertain as best they can by recreating iconic moments to the best of their abilities in order to elicit a strong emotional reaction from audiences, such as Queen’s Live Aid performance in Bohemian Rhapsody. Aline clings to the important events in Dion’s life, passing over any of the significant moments that occurred during her time as a singer and concentrating on the personal events that occurred during her time with her family and in her romantic relationship. Even in this case, though, the film fails to provide a sensitive or nuanced portrait of the performer.
The romance between Aline and Guy-Claude progresses quickly and in a shockingly humorous manner throughout the film. An example of this is the scene in which Aline, then 17 years old, gets a makeover and opens the door for Guy-Claude, only to have a gust of wind blow her hair as she performs her best “I am sexy now” pose, with a sparkle on her teeth to signal that years of braces and dental work have paid off. What the audience sees, on the other hand, is a lady in her 50s portraying a teenager who, throughout the first few years of their collaboration, develops love feelings for her 40-something-year-old manager. Lemercier makes no attempt to insinuate that there is anything wrong with this coupling (regardless of it being based on reality). What is shown on film, on the other hand, is a romantic relationship between two adults above the age of 40. Perhaps the casting choice was not made because of a desire to exercise artistic licence, but rather in order to fool the audience into accepting the pairing.
Throughout the film, Aline takes us on a journey through the singer’s life through a succession of montages, with the plot following a recognisable path. Even with a few selections from Celine Dion’s extensive musical repertoire, the film is scarcely watchable. The film has a relatively straightforward visual style that is consistent with the music biopics that air on Lifetime. There are no visually appealing compositions or visually fascinating photos to speak of. Nothing about this picture feels like it is deserving of the legendary Celine Dion’s performance. The audience at Cannes gave it a standing ovation, and this author has to question if it was because they were forced to endure the film or if they were treated to a display of cinematic talent.
Finally, the film poses the question of why Celine Dion was chosen. In the spirit of Vox Lux, why couldn’t this film take on the challenge of creating an entirely unique narrative about a musician’s climb from obscurity to superstardom? The solution is maybe as simple as this: if it weren’t for Celine Dion, no one would have paid attention. Aline/Celine is played at every age, which appears to be the only instance in which Lemercier appears to have been granted artistic licence. Aline, on the other hand, becomes nothing more than a joke and a waste of time when one disregards that decision as well as the significant lack of Dion’s most memorable moments.
In this film, there is a definite appreciation and respect for Dion, as well as admiration for her family, her love for René Angélil, and the person Dion is when she is not in the spotlight for the big events. Despite the fact that it is a charming display of affection, it is a disgusting caricature of Dion’s life and achievements. Lemercier’s abilities, which are visible in her work as an accomplished performer and filmmaker, are lost in this attempt to make it big. It’s possible that Aline might be more presentable or even more artistically daring if she instead created, directed, and starred in a hypothetical film about a fictitious star.
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