A swift follow-up to Dans Paris by the French writer/director Christophe Honore, Love Songs is a charming contemporary musical, in which the actors nonchalantly break into songs to express their characters' emotions. Divided into three chapters - departure, absence, and return - the story concerns the menage a trois between twenty-somethings Ismael (Honore regular Louis Garrel), Julie (Ludivine Sagnier), and Alice (Clotilde Hesme), only for tragedy to strike one of the trio out of the blue.
Set in a wintry and bustling inner-city district of Paris, Love Songs is in part a playful homage to the work of Honore's New Wave predecessors: hence the retro credits in which only the surnames of the main players are visible, and the sequences involving threesomes reading books in bed or larking about in the night-time streets.
"an emotionally affecting work in its own right"
Yet more importantly Love Songs is an emotionally affecting work in its own right, exploring how lovers and family members cope in diverse ways with an unexpected bereavement. Thus Julie's sister Jeanne (Chiara Mastroianni) appears weighed down by her grief, repeatedly visiting her dead sibling's flat and seeking to share her feelings with Ismael. The latter walks the boulevards alone, eventually opening up to the gay teenager Erwann (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet), who offers him his uncomplicated romantic love. Stylistically Honore favours a naturalistic approach to choreographing the composer Alex Baupain's thirteen songs, thus avoiding the pitfalls of kitsch and irony, whilst his young and beautiful cast, relying on their own singing voices, deliver appealingly vibrant performances.
Love Songs is out in the UK on 14th December 2007.