Aline deserves to go down in the history books as one of the most bizarre biopics ever made. Where else can one witness the same actress playing the lead character that charts her all the way back to infancy? In a way, the movie reminded me of the strange quality that came with seeing a child puppet amongst real actors in 2020’s quirky musical, Annette. Both movies have sequences that don’t quite fit, leading to a jarring mixed bag.
Just to get things out of the way: Aline is a movie inspired by the life of Celine Dion, using her music and story to explore the fiction of famous Canadian singer Aline Dieu. Curious personality Valerie Lemercier masterminds the whole affair from top to bottom, serving as lead star, writer, director, and producer. Lemercier clearly has an adoration towards Dion. As such, the faults and strengths of the movie both lie at her feet.
The fourteenth child in a huge family, Aline was seen as massively talented from an early age. Obsessed with Barbra Streisand and performing for her family, young Aline’s grades are nevertheless suffering. At the tender age of 12, Aline is discovered by producer Guy-Claude Kamar (Sylvain Marcel), who sees immeasurable promise in her. This relationship does eventually blossom into a richer love connection, which yes, is admittedly a little creepy to watch unfold. Aline’s mother tries to act as the voice of reason, insisting that a princess needs a prince, not an “old prune.” The couple is still drawn to one another, and eventually they marry.
As we flicker from one life event to the next, Aline practically trips over itself trying to capture every major milestone. I would love to have spent more time with the commercial aspects of Celine’s life, and the times when she started racking up insane amounts of money. Titanic is one of my top ten films of all time, with Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” easily one of the greatest songs ever created. We rush right through Aline’s reluctance at recording a demo for the song, to Oscar’s night when she performs the track in front of an audience. There is no progression or sense of urgency—the events in the film just keep happening, but the audience is never given enough time to absorb them. A sense of dramatic thrust is completely absent from Aline.
Aline is at least vastly different from your typical run-of-the-mill biopic. It manages to capture Celine Dion’s stage presence, and embodies her positivity, love towards fans, and Canadian friendliness. The choice to make Valerie Lemercier play Aline even as a tiny little child, however, is jarring in all the wrong ways. Aline falls firmly in the middle, stuck somewhere between campy fun, frustrating drama, and middling music biopic.
Aline spreads a musical message of love when it debuts in theaters on Friday, January 21st.