Review: The Voice of Love – Aline (2020)


The Voice of Love – Aline (2020)

Directed by: Valerie Lemercier | 123 minutes | drama | Actors: Valérie Lemercier, Sylvain Marcel, Danielle Fichaud, Roc Lafortune, Antoine Vézina, Pascale Desrochers, Jean-Noël Brouté, Victoria Sio, Sonia Vachon, Alain Zouvi, Marc Béland

‘The Voice of Love’, or as the film is also called ‘Aline’, is based on the life and career of superstar Céline Dion. Whether you’ve already seen several of her performances or the radio immediately switches channels – or skips the song on the playlist – when ‘My Heart Will Go On’ comes along, everyone knows this singer. If it is not because of her participation in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988 (which she won) or the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in 1996, then it must be because of the grayed out title song of the film hit ‘Titanic’ or her high-profile marriage to her 26 years older manager.

French actress and filmmaker Valérie Lemercier is a fan, that much is clear (although she wasn’t from the start). She based her script on her idol, but instead of a biopic she turned it into an ode. By naming her main character Aline Dieu, instead of Céline Dion, she distanced herself from the Canadian singer and acquired certain freedoms, which enhances the originality of the film.

The most special aspect of ‘The Voice of Love’, however, is that Lemercier herself plays the role of Aline: from the age of five until ‘now’. This produces a very uncomfortable feeling, especially in the beginning; even using the makeup department and simple CGI, the 1964-born actress is definitely not a convincing toddler. The head just isn’t right and it’s hard to get over it. Also in the later scenes, when twelve-year-old Aline meets her manager, whom she will later marry, this is just a disturbing factor. Whatever Lemercier’s motivation may have been (it wouldn’t have been a matter of budget, so it must have been an artistic decision), it’s a brave but not very successful choice.

On the other hand, it fits a bit with the campy atmosphere of the film. Some situations are greatly exaggerated, such as in the beginning when Aline’s parents rush out child after child. Aline is the youngest and fourteenth in this large, musical family and with her golden voice it is not surprising that mother Sylvette has big plans for her daughter. The scenes where the whole family gets involved are hilarious in their absurdism. Every now and then ‘The Voice of Love’ rubs against satire, but never does Lemercier and her cast cross the line. You feel the respect and love for the source of inspiration. This is especially apparent from the way in which Lemercier pays attention to the controversial relationship between the manager and his protégé. This is an aspect of Céline’s life that you can only understand thanks to this film. ‘The Voice of Love’ is a very specific film, you don’t just have to like the subject, the way it is cast also requires a certain open view. Very understandable if you can’t do anything with it, but Valérie Lemercier has succeeded in her aim.