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Adele Exarchopoulos in Overblown Romance

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In case you took Magnolia, Goodfellas, Boyz n the Hood and maybe Claude Lelouch’s A Man and a Lady, plugged all of them into the newest model of ChatGPT and requested it to spit out a model new movie, you possibly can wind up with one thing like Gilles Lellouche’s (no relation to Claude) swooning crime romance, Beating Hearts (L’Amour ouf).

A hodgepodge of film clichés and overwrought scenes, directed with zero tact and loads of pounding needle drops, actor-turned-director Lellouche’s third stab on the helm after his moderately likeable ensemble comedy, Sink or Swim, is much less a disappointment than a critical assault on the viewer’s intelligence. The truth that it premiered in Cannes’ competitors, moderately than in a sidebar “Première” slot, speaks to the overall degree of one of many competition’s weakest important slates in current reminiscence.

Beating Hearts

The Backside Line

Extra like coronary heart failure.

Venue: Cannes Movie Competition (Competitors)
Solid: Adèle Exarchopoulos, François Civil, Mallory Wanecque, Malik Frikah, Alain Chabat, Benoît Poelvoorde, Vincent Lacoste
Director: Gilles Lellouche
Screenwriters: Gilles Lellouche, Audrey Diwan, Ahmed Hamidi, based mostly on the novel by Neville Thompson

2 hours 46 minutes

Sink or Swim was a serious hit in France that grossed $40 million, granting Lellouche carte blanche to do no matter he wished domestically, and with a price range practically equal to what his final movie made. You must give him credit score for attempting exhausting, although the issue is he really tries approach too exhausting. Watching his decade-spanning saga of violent crime and amour fou is like having Lellouche repeatedly punch you within the face whereas he retains shouting: Don’t you get how fou this amour actually is? Don’t you??

Screaming and face-punching are, the truth is, main motifs in a state of affairs that was tailored by the director, Audrey Diwan (Occurring) and Ahmed Hamidi from a novel by Irish author Neville Thompson. The unique e-book was set in working-class Dublin, which the filmmakers replace to a northern French metropolis within the Nineteen Eighties and 90s bombarded with interval swag by the artwork division, from automobiles to storefronts to classic phonebooths. There’s additionally a litany of music cues performed on outdated Sony Walkmans (do not forget that yellow Sony Walkman? Bear in mind??) and Hello-Fi stereos, together with The Treatment’s gothic rock hit, “A Forest.”

That observe isn’t solely heard in full however featured in a choreographed dance quantity — you may toss West Aspect Story into the AI generator as nicely — the place the 2 teenagers fall head-over-heels for one another after first assembly outdoors of center faculty. Each hail from modest households, although they appear to be worlds aside: Clotaire (Malik Frikah) is a hot-headed thug who will get into fights with different boys that Lellouche levels like veritable MMA combats. Jaqueline, aka Jackie (Mallory Wanecque), is a great however rebellious woman who’s being raised by a considerate dad (Alain Chabat) after her mom was killed in a automotive crash.

It doesn’t take lengthy for his or her two younger hearts to leap into motion — and in the event you didn’t get that then don’t fear, the director inserts a shot the place a wad of bubble gum begins beating like an actual coronary heart. Yikes.

Their budding relationship, nonetheless passionate, shall be short-lived. As a result of he’s such a badass, and one who appears to lack primary human logic, Clotaire will get caught up with an area prison (Benoît Poelvoorde) specializing in armed theft and karaoke — as a result of, why not? Quickly sufficient he’s turn out to be an integral a part of a gang that assaults the identical port facility the place his father (Karim Leklou) works, ensuing within the loss of life of an armored automotive driver that Clotaire takes the blame for.

The crime facets of the movie are by no means credible and all the time over-the-top, as a result of Lellouche is clearly much less involved with plausibility than channeling a sure intense and fiery temper. And simply in case you didn’t get that both, the film’s opening credit function a drone shot the place the digicam flies straight right into a smokestack respiration hearth. Fireplace!!

Lower to a decade later. The heartbroken Jackie (Adèle Exarchopoulos) has by no means gotten over what occurred, flunking faculty and now working a day job at a rental automotive place. It’s there that she meets her firm’s midlevel supervisor, Jeffrey (Vincent Lacoste), who dismisses her for being obnoxious, however then falls for her afterwards when she strips right down to her underwear on a rain-soaked road, throwing her uniform in his face.

Jeffrey is a caricature of the French yuppie class, wearing white polos and obsessive about trendy conveniences and company success. It’s probably the most thankless function the charming Lacoste (Sorry Angel) has ever performed — and simply wait until you see what winds up occurring to Jeffrey.

However Clotaire and Jackie additionally come throughout as caricatures of the French working-class, unable to regulate themselves or their feelings as a result of that’s apparently what working-class youngsters are like. Lellouche divides the world into stereotypes that he amplifies in practically each scene, as if the drama will by some means be plausible if everybody screams their lungs out.

This occurs rather a lot all through the film and particularly over the last hour — the movie clocks in at a gut-busting 166 minutes — after Clotaire (now performed by François Civil) will get out of jail and tries to win Jackie again, solely to study that it might be too late. So as an alternative of, say, attempting more durable, he transforms into an area Scarface, dealing medicine, breaking heads, robbing nightclubs, and counting stacks of money as rap hits like Nas’ “Made You Look” blast at excessive quantity.

There are many doubtful touches towards the tip, resembling the truth that Clotaire’s outdated pal from the hood, Lionel, reappears as comedian Jean-Pascal Zidi, who sports activities an old-school flat-top and is almost twice the age the character must be. Or the best way Jeffrey transforms into one thing like Jeffrey Dahmer, creepily stalking Jackie round city when he finds out she nonetheless loves Clotaire. Or that plenty of persons are killed in drive-by shootings or epic automotive crashes with out the police ever exhibiting up.

To his credit score, Lellouche maintains a brutally excessive vitality degree from begin to end, as if he’d been administered intravenous drips of Crimson Bull whereas standing behind the digicam. That digicam by no means stops transferring for a single second, and cinematographer Laurent Tangy (The Stronghold) deserves some credit score as nicely for making the movie look fairly gorgeous, following the crossed lovers over seashores, manufacturing unit flooring and dance flooring whereas they race towards their future.

The truth that Beating Hearts doesn’t ship the future we initially anticipated can also be to the director’s credit score, though the final 5 minutes hardly make up for the opposite 160. Lellouche’s grand romantic assertion is so simple as it appears to be honest, nevertheless it’s additionally overblown and downright vulgar at occasions. Love undoubtedly conquers all in his world, together with good style.

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