The Singer: "Music is my life"
by Fabien Lemercier
There was a warm welcome from the international press this morning for The Singer [+see also:
film profile], the third feature by French director Xavier Giannoli, and especially for the film’s leading actor, Gérard Depardieu.
Carrying the film on his shoulders in the role of a tacky singer who performs at balls and dinner parties in the French rural town of Clermont-Ferrand, Depardieu – who won Best Actor Award at Cannes in 1990 – turns in a performance worthy of this very best. Well-supported by his co-star, Belgian actress Cécile de France, he succeeds in giving a subtle and touching humanity to a character that could easily have become a caricature.
Alain Moreau is an aging local star who specialises in "oldies" and slow songs. With his dyed hair and crooner jackets, he performs solo or with his orchestra at company parties, retirement homes and nightclubs. Now karaoke is threatening his 20-year career.
When he meets Marion (Cécile de France), a real estate agent trying to get over her recent heartbreak, sparks of sharp dialogue and impossible love (Rossellini’s Stromboli can be seen on TV) fly between the two, who nevertheless will save each other from disaster.
Flirting with the classic traps of sentimentality ever without falling into them, Giannoli is modest enough to recognise that he is not one of those "directors who create a film with Depardieu, but that it is Depardieu who creates a film through the director". This clear vision is also evident in his discreet and classical directing style, his profound interest in human beings and lack of cynicism for the world of ordinary people, and the obvious trust his actors have in him.
The film also includes songs, sung by Depardieu himself, by Serge Gainsbourg (L’anamour) and Christophe (Les Paradis perdus), who also has a cameo in the film.
Produced by Rectangle Productions and EuropaCorp, who are handling the film’s French distribution as well as international sales, the €7.3m The Singer received an advance on receipts of €380,000 from the CNC, backing from France 3 Cinéma (€800,000), and a pre-sales agreement from Canal +.
(Translated from French)
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