3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Foreign
Opens locally Friday, August 26th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Jacques Gamblin, Sara Forestier
Co-written & Directed by Michel Leclerc (J'invente rien)
"The Names of Love" is a film out of France, with English subtitles, and opens in limited release this weekend. It was an official selection at this year's Cannes Film Festival. From the opening scene, this light comedy establishes itself also as a smart, thinly-veiled political satire, with a quirky, odd-ball tone that keeps things loose...perhaps a bit too loose, as far as the plot goes.
Arthur Martin (Gamblin) is a pretty common name, over 15,000 in France share the same name in fact. He's a right-winger in France, although he supports a left-leaning politician. Young Baya Benmahmoud (Forestier) on the other hand, is the only Baya Benmahmoud in France, born to an illegal alien and a liberal hippy...although she supports the right-winged politician who helped serve her dad his papers. Can such fundamental differences be overcome? Well of course silly, this is the movies.
But don't think that this film is somehow a "political film." Not knowing the politics of modern France, I took the movie to represent the tried-and-true "opposites attract" story-line...think a Jew falling in love with a German, a Christian and a Muslim, or...gasp!...a Democrat and a Republican. Love sees no boundaries, and exposure to a different perspective often results in self-growth and realization.
This of course, is all under the surface of the film. What works best is the deadpan delivery and idiosyncrasies given to the characters, making for an enjoyable and funny, if inconsequential, viewing. The two characters narrate their own history, for example, where we see Arthur's dad fall in love with Arthur's mom several years ago. From Arthur's perspective however, he can't imagine his father as anything but an old man, so we the viewers get to witness an old man falling in love with a younger version of his mother. Creepy, silly, but funny. I also liked the references to modern-day technology and the casual observations of today's culture.
With a few laugh-out-loud moments, some memorable performances and clever dialogue, the movie never really goes anywhere. Still, it's popcorn fluff of a different variety...it's not the most memorable of movies but satiable, to say the least.
Looking for a specific movie or review?