Aline, Takes Inspiration From Céline Dion To Portray A Modern Fanny Brice

Aline, Takes Inspiration From Céline Dion To Portray A Modern Fanny Brice

Inspired by the life of Céline Dion, director, screenwriter and actress Valérie Lemercier brings to the silver screen an homage to the singer…that is not entirely a biopic. Aline is an ambitious and energetic melange of genres, where drama, comedy and music coalesce.

Valérie embodies the titular character, but the songs of Aline are entrusted to the voice of Victoria Sio, a French singer of Italian origin. The plot is quite straightforward and resembles the A Star Is Born structure, where a talented young girl meets the manager who will change her career and life forever. 

The story is set in Quebec, during the late 1960s. Sylvette Dieu (Danielle Fichaud) and her husband Anglomard (Roc Lafortune), give birth to their fourteenth child: Aline.

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In the family, music rules: all siblings gather to perform for festive occasions, and the youngest one of all is gifted with an angelical voice. Since Aline’s singing is out of the ordinary, the entire family sends a cassette to record producer Guy-Claude Kamar (Sylvain Marcel), who will transform her in the greatest singer in the world — in the life of Céline Dion this man was René Angélil — and become her life partner. Aline follows her destiny and becomes the queen of pop, a world star with millions of records, awards and concerts.

The film is as an enjoyable coming-of-age story as the protagonist comes across as a modern Fanny Brice; the ingénue who goes from rags-to-riches; the ugly duckling who becomes a swan. The only perplexity that arises is Lemercier’s choice to play Aline also at the age of puberty, with some digital effects that give her an eerie allure rather than a juvenile one. In fact, her persona becomes more empathetic as the age of the character and actress gradually align. Other than this, one can perceive the great dedication and meticulous work Valérie has put in honouring her favourite artist.

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The two share a similar background, coming from humble origins and having dedicated wholeheartedly their lives to the stage.

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Lemercier is the daughter of farmers from Normandy, and she soon became accustomed to the sacrifices and loneliness that come from show business, when those who work with you constitute your second family.

Aline Dieu is full of candour and frankness, that resemble the character of Celine Dion, but the narrative takes a lot of artistic licence. It does not chronicle the actual life of the Canadian superstar. It blends an incommensurable amount of elements from her biography and persona with imaginary situations. Lemercier’s resemblance to Dion works in her favour, just as the gestures and stage presence she conveys in Aline. The fact that the film goes from the protagonist’s childhood to her glory, creates a strong trait d’union between Dion’s life and the deviation from facts for artistic purposes. And the homage to the actual singer is blatant through the selection of the repertoire, that shows the highlights of her career like the victory at the Eurovision Song Contest and the Oscar for My Heart Will Go On. 

Aline, presented and acclaimed at the 74th Cannes Film Festival and the 39th Torino Film Festival, utterly changes the rules of the game, reshaping the biographical genre. The theatrical background of Lemercier is palpable, by the way she directs her actors: the characters balance their performances between comedic over-the-top instances and delicate soul-searching moments, almost as if they were staging an extravagant Commedia dell’arte performance. All of this is orchestrated in a quintessentially choral unison: even though Aline is the guiding star of the cinematic tale, it feels like admiring a representation of the Comédie-Française, where the show is above all about the collective rather than the individual. In effect, without all the characters that contour Aline’s life the picture wouldn’t be as effective. Little does it matter to distinguish what is true from what isn’t because she epitomises the timeless pop myth. 

Final Grade: B

Check out more of Chiara’s articles.

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