At first glance and hearing, Love Songs (Les Chansons D'amour) seems to be a light-hearted musical about a menage-a-trois. Set with existential loveliness in the rain washed streets of Paris, this film is much more. Early in the film tragedy strikes and the characters suddenly change from playful to anguished. What is amazing is that the songs go on. This is French film at its best. The fourteen songs of the film, the creation of songwriter Alex Beaupain, express every imaginable emotion. Director Christophe Honoré blends the performances of gorgeous lead, Louis Garrel, who plays the enigmatic Ishmael, and his lovers into a passionate harmony with the songs. The cast also includes Chiara Mastroianni, the daughter of actors Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni. The voices in the songs are those of the actors.
The music, which was written before the film and independent of the plot, is nonetheless moving and creates a fascinating dialog between the characters. It is Honoré who works story and song into such a convincing blend. The story of love, loss, and love rediscovered is one that Simone De Beauvoir would have loved as it explores her themes of commitment, death, bisexuality, and existential authenticity. The revelations of the characters, their coping with the death of a loved one, and the brilliant dialogue in and out of song, not unlike that of the best Stephen Sondheim plays, make this film a classic. That the story and the songs are also a tribute to the joy of same-sex love place the film high on any list of great gay films. Sadly, it may be the gay relationships that have kept this film from its rightful place alongside the films of Truffaut, Chabrol, and Demy. Chosen by John Waters as his pick at the 2009 Maryland film festival, and an official selection for The Cannes Film Festival, Love Songs is a masterpiece that all serious film enthusiasts ought to savor.