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Length: 126 minutes
Director: Valérie Lemercier
Writers: Valérie Lemercier, Brigitte Buc
Cast: Valérie Lemercier, Sylvain Marcel, Danielle Fichaud, Roc Lafortune, Antoine Vézina, Pascale Desrochers, Jean-Noël Brouté, Victoria Sio (Aline's singing voice)
Language: French with English subtitles
In theatres from 2 December 2021 (Singapore)
3 out of 5 stars
Don't get confused now: Aline is meant to be a biopic about the life and career of superstar pop diva Celine Dion. However, the screenwriters decided to change the name of the "Celine" character in the film to Aline Dieu, so as to allow themselves more creative freedom in inventing details about the life of Celine Dion.
French actress Valérie Lemercier, who also directed Aline as well as co-wrote it, is a big fan of Dion, who hails from Quebec, the French-speaking region of Canada. Regarding the decision to change Celine's name in the film, as well as the names of all the other people in the real-life singer's life, she said: "That unblocked everything. Thanks to 'Aline', we let ourselves embroider reality, invent details like the engagement ring in a scoop of ice cream, or the old shoes her mother lends her for her first audition, which explains the thousands of pairs of shoes she later had in her closet..."
It's perhaps not surprising that a biopic about Celine Dion might come from France instead of Hollywood, considering that Celine began her career singing in French before she became an international star. What is more surprising is that Celine is still alive and well; not very many biopics are released while the subject is still around to see it.
The film is driven largely by the romantic relationship between Aline and Guy Claude – Rene Angelil in real life, who started Dion's career by producing her music, married Dion later, and remained her husband until he died of throat cancer in 2016.
Dion and Angelil had a somewhat controversial relationship because of their age gap – he was 26 years older than her, they started dating when she was 19, and both married when she was 26. Aline explores the objections that Dion's family had about their relationship – especially Aline's mother.
The film is quite funny in portraying the obstacles Aline and Guy Claude face from Aline's mother. Lemercier also portrayed rather well the quirks of Celine Dion, who, while ranked among the most successful singers, is famous for her eccentric, humorous personality and free-wheeling spirit.
However, the love story peters out midway through the film. After all, Dion and Angelil's love was true and accepted even by the singer's fans, so their age gap couldn't have been the main conflict for the film. We are shown the progression of Aline and Guy Claude's romantic and domestic life as they marry and have children, and some professional challenges she faces, but there isn't enough there to provide an interesting look at the person Celine Dion is, or provide dramatic drive for the rest of the film.
Furthermore, for a musical film about one of the greatest pop stars, it doesn't seem all that interested in the music that made her famous: a few Celine Dion songs are performed in tandem with the narrative of the movie, but they're short and don't do justice to Dion's towering vocal prowess. Perhaps that's the problem: no one can reproduce Celine Dion's powerhouse vocals. The singing voice of Aline was provided by French singer Victoria Sio (Dion didn't want to be involved in the film and preferred not to read the screenplay.) Sio isn't a bad singer at all – nevertheless, it's hard for one's brain to connect the voice that emanates from the screen to the Queen of Power Ballads.
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