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“The Names of Love” [“Le nom des gens”] – Review (POSITIVE)

August 22, 2011

Quite an interesting film we’ve got here, it’s not the convential love story, which I like a lot. It’s sort of a French version of “Annie Hall”, the characters break the fourth wall, there are certain parts of the reality broken. It’s fun. It’s a fun little movie. But, as fun & sexy as the movie can be, there are some seriously strong dramatic overtones that the trailer doesn’t show you. The dealings of political idealistic differences, racism, immigration, and Holocaust survivors. Yeah, you wouldn’t really expect much of those heavy issues set in a whimsical romantic comedy.

A young half Arab half French free spirit, Baya Benmahmoud (Sara Forestier), lives by this classic motto: “Make love, not war.” In order to convert them to her cause, she sleeps with her political enemies, Fascists, right-wingers, which means she must sleep with a lot of men, and she’s not kidding. Because every conservative is her enemy, it’s her mission in life to transform them into left-wing hippies like herself, and she’s gotten positive results by working this angle. That is until she meets Arthur Martin (Jacques Gamblin), 40-something year old Veterinarian who specializes in the properites of dead animals, mostly fowl. Lately he’s been on the radio about getting the cautionary word out to the people about a possible flu epidemic caused by ducks. Baya figures that with such a common name like Arthur Martin, he’s bound to be a real conservative and thus a hard man to convert. And that’s where the cleverness comes into place, names can be treacherous and things aren’t always what they seem. Baya and Arthur are as different as two people can be, and soon enough spark fly, and the love for one becomes something stronger than the two could not have ever imagined.

The first 30 minutes of the film really catches the attention of the audience as Baya & Arthur travel back in time (seperately) to give us a glimps about where they’ve come from, what their families have been through, what they’ve been through, and what can this fortell for the both of them when their inveitable meet comes into place. It’s a well written comedy-drama, sometimes it gets a bit out of hand, the infamous nude scene that Baya committs will leave people either laughing in tears or in a state of embarrassment (a mixture of both), but it doesn’t stay in those realms of pure slapstick nonsensical humor for long. There’s a fine balance, the movie really finds itself when we get a better understanding about these two peoples backgrounds, one who’s been brought to hide his half Jewish background, the other to not execept others who’re different than her. Baya’s Arab father who came to France to find a new life beyond Algeria, and Arthur’s mother who’s a Holocaust survivor & has forced herself to never speak of that time or her parents, the grandparents that Arthur never got to learn about.

I did have one major issue with this movie, and I don’t think I was the only one in the theater who thought the same, the subtitle color, BAD CHOICE OF COLOR. The movie itself is shot in a very bright way. Many bright/light colors, and when you decide to choose a light colored text over a light colored shot, you’re gonna have a hard time reading those subtitles. Hopefully this problem will be fixed by its DVD/Bluray release. On home video, the subtitles text differ from the subtitles used in theaters. Speaking of the cinematography, I really liked how certain sequences in the film, not many, but some were shot on either 8 or 16 mm, it gave this fantastical feel to it. Very other worldly like, which plays to the movies non-traditional style.

As I s at there when the end credits hit, I thought to myself, “Wow, this was a fantastic movie. Foreign films tend to be better than American produced films. But, I’ve got this sneaky suspicion that this movie will be the target of Hollywood and remade for an American audience.” For real, that’s what went through my head, and I believe it too. This is exactly the kind of movie that Hollywood studios will target as their next Foreign to American remake. The question is, how well would that remake be? I’m not saying that there is going to be a U.S. remake, I’m just saying I’ve got this gut feeling it could. Nevertheless, lets focus on the now, “The Names of Love” was one of the best films of the summer that didn’t have superheroes, big stars, explosions, robots, wizards, etc. As foreign films go, this is one of the better ones of 2011, and could certainly get an Oscar nomination in that category.

GRADE: B+

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