Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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Cannes Film Festival 2006: Depardieu’s soliloquies in “The Singer

Xavier Giannoli’s French work, The Singer”, is an old world story of a dance-floor romance that made me feel wonderfully happy. Part of the 20 movie-Competition lineup at the 59th Cannes Film Festival (May 17-28 2006), “The Singer” takes us back in time, when actors performed without pretension, when songs and dances were not gymnastic exercises, and when technique was used to compliment the narrative style, not just to distract us from a weak plot.

“The Singer’s” highlight is a performance by Gerard Depardieu, who as a dance hall crooner is so understated and simple that I felt rattled. As an Indian used to the school of over- dramatised theatrics (read hysterics), I could not believe that here was a piece of effortless acting that conveyed such remarkable depth. Depardieu is excellence, and he carries his huge figure with charismatic style with no trace of clumsiness. And he sings himself, and his songs sound like “Shakespearian soliloquies”.

The story could well be a 1950s one. Alain Moreau (Depardieu) falls in love with lovely Marion (Cecile de France), and there is not a false ring in this relationship. They go to bed the night they meet. Marion is embarrassed, and she sneaks away the next morning. But Alain is by then deeply in love with her, and since Marion works in a real estate firm, he asks her to show him some houses on the pretext of buying one.

Despite her stubborn refusal to pair up with him, Alain lives in hope, and uses his music to bridge the relationship. There is a sublime feeling of re-invigoration, which touches Marion, and us.

“The Singer” is an honest work in which the dance floor helps people connect, not just drink Champaign. And Alain’s voice mesmerises them with its melodious lyrics and a high emotional quotient.

“The Singer” charmed me, all of its 112 minutes.

(Posted on this website on June 20 2006)