mon 24/06/2024

Elle l’Adore | reviews, news & interviews

Elle l’Adore

Elle l’Adore

Uneasy alliance of darkness and humour in French star-fan relationship drama

Singer Vincent Lacroix (Laurent Lafitte) meets superfan Muriel (Sandrine Kiberlain) in 'Elle L’Adore'

The relationship between stars and their fans is symbiotic, but there are barriers for many reasons. Illusions can crumble when the star-struck come too close to their idol. Celebrities have to lead their lives, and intrusions by the obsessed hardly encourage day-to-day routine. Elle L’Adore posits a what-if which takes place when a star decides to breach the barrier.

It’s an improbable what-if. Popular singer Vincent Lacroix (Laurent Lafitte - familiar here from his TV role in Birdsong) accidentally kills his girlfriend during one of their regular arguments and enlists the help of fanatical superfan Muriel (Sandrine Kiberlain) to get rid of the body. Turning up at her apartment, he asks her to drive from Paris to Switzerland in her car but not to look at what he’s put in its boot. Once over the border, she is to go to his sister’s and hand over instructions. Naturally, it goes wrong.

Elle L'Adore Muriel Sandrine KiberlainHer backstory reveals beauty shop worker Muriel as a serial fantasist. Friends are used to her tall tales and don’t believe them. A divorcee, she even tells her kids about made-up encounters. Lacroix is a smoothie singer in the varieté mould along the lines of Patrick Bruel. His following is massive. He fills French stadia. At her mother’s house, the walls of Muriel’s old bedroom are plastered with pictures of Lacroix. The room is filled with box after box of memorabilia. Her obsession is no secret. After Lacroix reports his girlfriend missing, the police smell a rat and begin digging. Muriel is hauled in. The body is found in a place which makes things look bad. But her being an evident fantasist skews things. In the end, it’s Lacroix who becomes dependent on Muriel (pictured right, Sandrine Kiberlain's besotted Muriel at a Vincent Lacroix concert).

If any of this beggars belief, Elle L’Adore is made even harder to swallow by first-time director Jeanne Herry’s incorporation of jarring attempts at humour. The investigating police officers, Antoine (Pascal Demolon) and Coline (Olivia Côte) (pictured below left), have a fractious bond. Although they're lovers, she is sleeping with other colleagues and he is jealous. Their bickering is played for laughs. The absurdities don’t end there: the body was supposed to be disposed of in an unlikely way; the object which kills is a Victoire de la Musique award.

Elle L'Adore Antoine Pascal Demolon Coline Olivia CôteDespite the promising yet contrived scenario, Elle L’Adore has too many component parts. It’s a shaggy dog story which doesn’t add up to a lot. The dependable Kiberlain’s nuanced portrayal of lost soul Muriel carries the film. Lafitte plays Lacroix as a cardboard cutout. Beyond Lacroix’s taking advantage of Muriel, the star-fan relationship is not explored. It just is. Why Muriel is a fantasist is impossible to tell. Running the dark and the farcical in parallel makes the film neither one nor the other. It does not play out with the sure hand of, say, Shallow Grave.

Director Herry is the daughter of actor Miou-Miou and the singer Julien Clerc so presumably has some – unexpressed – insight into the star-fan dynamic as well as the nitty-gritty of the music business. Whether any elements of the hyper-real Elle L’Adore have any basis in her own life is an open question.

More certain though is that the film’s trigger incident echoes the real-life story of Bertrand Cantat, the frontman of French band Noir Désir. In 2004, he was jailed after the death of his girlfriend, the actor Marie Trintignant. She was filming in Lithuania in 2003 and, while there, the pair had an argument. The blows he inflicted resulted in her death five days later. Bringing an adaptation of this disturbing episode into the off-the-wall Elle L’Adore makes watching the film very uncomfortable indeed.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Elle L’Adore

'Elle L’Adore' is a shaggy dog story which doesn’t add up to a lot


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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