A still from Aline, starring Valerie Lemercier.
122 minutes, opens Dec 2
This weird but heartfelt French-language fan letter to Canadian pop star Celine Dion opens like an Internet meme. Its early scenes consist of silly jokes about what it is like to be born to working-class parents who might be a little lax in the birth control department. In the following sections, the tone moves from comedy to material that feels richer and deeper.
Aline (French actress, co-writer and director Valerie Lemercier) is born the 14th and last child of blue-collar parents living in Quebec. Her talent for singing is a bolt from the blue, causing her parents and siblings to find their mission: Make her a star.
They contact Montreal-based producer Guy-Claude Kamar (Sylvain Marcel). Bowled over by her talent, he decides to transform this 12-year-old from a nondescript suburbanite into a national sensation. The rest of the movie is mostly melodrama, following her highs and lows up to the present day.
It is tough to define this off-kilter take on Dion’s life story; perhaps “absurdist musical homage” will have to do. It is not a takedown of the musical biopic, in the style of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007), nor does it mock a musical genre, as This Is Spinal Tap (1984) does.
Lemercier clearly loves Dion both as a performer and as a person, if Aline’s life is anything to go by. Aline has her flaws, but she is a star who struggles to keep her husband and family close when she could have easily become another casualty of too much money, too soon.
At a recent screening, members of Dion’s family gave the thumbs down to the faux biopic, calling it mean-spirited and inaccurate. Their reaction is understandable, but underlines why authorised biographies, with their carefully crafted storylines, exist mostly as fan service.
Even if you loathe Dion’s music – a common complaint after 1997’s My Heart Will Go On traumatised a generation of power-ballad haters – this touching portrait of a singular talent stands on its own as a piece of entertainment.
Till We Meet Again (NC16)
Kai Ko (left) and Vivian Sung (right) in Till We Meet Again. PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE
128 minutes, opens Dec 2
In this fantasy romance from Taiwan, A-Lun (Kai Ko) is dead after a lightning strike. In the spirit world, he becomes the god of love, with no memory of his previous life. With teammate Pinky (Gingle Wang), he turns strangers into lovers. His placid existence is thrown into disarray when he meets the human woman Xiaomi (Vivian Sung).
Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City (rating to be advised)
A still from Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City, starring Kaya Scodelario. PHOTO: SONY PICTURES
Run time to be advised, opens Dec 2
This reboot of the action-horror film series stars Kaya Scodelario and Robbie Amell as orphaned siblings Claire and Chris. Claire escapes the Raccoon City Orphanage before she is subjected to weird experiments carried out by the evil Umbrella Corporation. She returns to the city to find its citizens succumbing to an illness that turns them into zombies.
Pil’s Adventures (PG)
PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE
89 minutes, opens Dec 2
In this English-language animated feature from French production house Tat, an usurper has laid a curse on the rightful heir to the throne, turning him into a half-cat, half-chicken creature. Plucky orphan Pil finds himself on a quest to save the city.Internet Explorer Channel Network