Aline (CREDIT: Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Starring: Valérie Lemercier, Sylvain Marcel, Danielle Fichaud, Roc LaFortune, Antoine Vézina, Jean-Noël Brouté

Director: Valérie Lemercier

Running Time: 126 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Some Colorful Language About Bodies and Body Parts

Release Date: April 8, 2022 (Theaters)

I don’t think I’m fully immersed in all the necessary context to fully enjoy Aline, although I’m at least aware enough of the basics to understand what’s happening. It’s not a Céline Dion biopic, except that it very much is a Céline Dion biopic. Sure, the main character is named “Aline Dieu,” but the broad outline of her fictional story is pretty much exactly the same as Dion’s real life journey. And perhaps the name changes allow the Aline team more leeway to take artistic license, but it’s not as if more official biopics don’t also feature fictionalized scenes.

Then there’s the matter of 58-year-old director Valérie Lemercier playing Aline throughout the entire film, from five-year-old sensation to superstar mother of three. I’ve gleaned that Lemercier is popular enough in her native France that this sort of thing is pretty much expected from her. Meanwhile, for the rest of us who don’t know her beyond Aline, the shock value wears off fairly quickly and turns into something else. Specifically, it looks like young Aline has something like Benjamin Button Syndrome, and her family has just accepted that. Besides, the narrative cuts ahead to adult Aline’s portion of the story soon enough that any potential cognitive dissonance more or less disappears.

Ultimately, despite the name change and the age-blind casting, Aline mostly comes off as one of the most straightforward biopics I’ve ever seen. That is to say, it attempts to cram everything significant about one person’s life in a two-hour package, and there are some highlights here and there. Maybe the sight of an adult Lemercier playing a teenager falling in love with her much-older manager/future husband is supposed to be a commentary about how Dion’s relationship with René Angélil transcended (or didn’t transcend?) the bounds of age. But that’s hardly underscored. Maybe this really is just as right-down-the-middle as it feels like it is. And yet, I feel like if I could dig around Lemercier’s subconscious for a little bit, wonders would be uncovered.

Aline is Recommended If You Like: Forced perspective cinematography, Sudden hard cuts skipping years at a time, Lip synced cover songs

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Shoes