Love Songs (Les Chansons D’Amour) (review)

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Oh, what a sweet, sad, sexy movie! Not quite a musical — everybody sings, but in intimate settings, not skipping and dancing through huge production numbers — this is more a long-form music video: a Francophile Once. A bittersweet celebration of romantic love as the bread of life and sexuality as fluid as it needs to be to give us what we need, this uplifting, expressive film, from writer-director Christophe Honoré, expands cosily on the perplexed, poignant emotional energy of Ismaël (Louis Garrel: The Dreamers) and Julie (Ludivine Sagnier: Ma femme est une actrice), twentysomething Parisians, and two lonely interlopers into their relationship: Alice (Clotilde Hesme), who “doesn’t do sex” yet nevertheless becomes the third corner of their threesome, and Erwann (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet), who latches on Ismaël at a vulnerable moment. They sing songs aching with desire and hope and loss to one another; they mope beautifully, wandering rainy, chilly, Paris in lovelorn trances — you fall in love with them all, and long for them to find some measure of happiness, somehow, and you end up satisfied, even if you’re never sure they do. If this wonder of cinema isn’t playing near you, you can watch it at home on IFC on Demand, though be warned: IFC has labeled the film a “comedy,” which is bizarre, unless a certain hard-won, melancholy joie de vivre is now considered “funny.”

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