Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Rated:  R  ( DVD)

Stars:  Sara Forestier,  Jacques Gamblin
Director: Michel Leclerc
Genre: French/Romantic Comedy/Drama

Normally, in America, when you've got your female star prancing around in her full birthday suit glory for what can seem like most of the movie, you've got yourself a sexploitation film. But in France, sex wasn't invented yesterday, (in the U.S. it never existed till the sixties) and they are quite adept at incorporating it into a serious film--seriously funny, seriously clever, and seriously poignant throughout, as in The Names of Love.

Sara Forestier, a big-eyed French Zooey Deschanel who takes her clothes off, (which Zooey doesn't do, but I still love her) is Baya, a free spirit whose mission in life is to convert conservative-minded men into liberals, which she does by taking them to bed. Miraculously, it doesn't take much for them to see the light...after she's turned it off, and turned them on. 

But Baya, the product of a French mother and an Algerian Muslim father,   meets her match in Arthur Martin, (Jacques Gamblin) a rather straight-laced epidemiologist. Baya initially takes him for a right-winger. He's actually socialist. Too uneasy to reveal that his mother is a Jewish holocaust survivor. Two "half-breeds" on a course for true romance.

The Names of Love handles politics, prejudice, multiculturalism, and historical tragedy with a devilishly playful touch that ferrets out the humor in everything--which we should all know exists if we can just get over ourselves long enough to see it. The dinner party scene where Baya commits one politically incorrect faux pas after another in trying to cozy up to Arthur's mother is pure gold. 

At one point in the film,  Baya says, "The day there's nothing but half-breeds, there will be peace."

I tend to agree. 

Cultural and racial identity creates the rich, beautiful tapestry that currently makes up our world. It's when we allow it to overshadow the COMMONALITY OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE--as I like to call it--is when we get into trouble. We all come here from some unknown place. We all leave here for some unknown destination. In between, we all struggle with the same basic question: UH...WHAT DA HELL DO I DO NOW? That alone should form a bond among all humanity that transcends small- minded divisions.   

The Names of of the best films of 2011!

Grade:  A