Quand j’etais chanteur

A rainy day in London Town. Richard & I are at a loose end, having booked leave ages ago – then not booked a holiday in case of an autum election. I know, that idea’s so last week…. So we went to the Renoir. The refurbished Brunswick Centre looks wonderful even in the rain, lovely shops (Office, Hobbs, LK Bennet), however we were glad to duck into the shelter of the cinema. On this wet Tuesday afternoon, we were about a quarter of the audience for Quand j’etais chanteur – a pity, because it’s a charming film.

Gerard Depardieu plays Alain Moreau, an ageing singer of love songs, working the dance halls of Clermont Ferrand. Cecile de France (who despite the name is Belgian) plays his beautiful, troubled estate agent, Marion. Alain’s half-hearted house hunting is a metaphor for their respective dilemmas about moving on to a new life. The Auvergne looks beautiful, and the cafes and bars make you feel you are in France. The empty properties Alain vists contrast with his chaotically untidy farmhouse. The music, which might be corny in other contexts, is sweet. The cast are great, from Alain’s affectionate ex-wife manager to Marion’s little boy. Best of all, the story is not spelled out Hollywood-style. There are lots of loose ends, lots of subtle touches, from the 60s limo in Alain’s field to another singer’s green scarf in his dressing room, intriguing and unexplained.There are many bitter-sweet moments in the film, but the ending is gently optimistic. And when we emerged from the Renoir to find ourselves back in London, the sun was shining.

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