Review: ‘Aline’ (2021), starring Valérie Lemercier

May 15, 2022

by Carla Hay

Valérie Lemercier in “Aline” (Photo by Jean-Marie Leroy/Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films)

“Aline” (2021)

Directed by Valérie Lemercier

French with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the Canadian province of Québec and various other parts of the world, the drama “Aline” features an all-white cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: In this dramatic film inspired by the life of French Canadian pop singer Céline Dion, fictional singer Aline Dieu overcomes childhood shyness to become a music superstar, but as an adult, she struggles with fame, infertility issues and her husband’s cancer diagnosis.

Culture Audience: “Aline” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of Céline Dion and melodramatic movies about famous singers where the movies’ cinematic quality is questionable at best.

Valérie Lemercier and Silvain Marcel in “Aline” (Photo by Jean-Marie Leroy/Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films)

“Aline” is less of a Céline Dion tribute and more of a mishandled vanity project from director/writer/star Valérie Lemercier. In this frequently tacky drama, Lemercier portrays a superstar fictional singer named Aline Dieu (a character based on the real-life Céline Dion), from the ages of 5 to 50. Very few middle-aged people can convincingly depict a pre-teen child on camera. Unfortunately for the movie, Lemercier is not one of them.

It’s not a complete train wreck, but “Aline” is not very convincing as an “inspired by” biopic or as a work of fiction. And it has a lot to do with Lemercier’s often-cringeworthy performance of Aline as a child. Lemercier co-wrote the “Aline” screenplay with Brigitte Buc. And as the movie’s director, Lemercier had the bad judgment to cast herself in the role of Aline as a child. This directorial decision reeks of egotism and wanting to have as much screen time as possible, instead of casting a capable child actress in an age-appropriate role for the underage part of Aline’s life.

People who know Dion’s story already will find no surprises in “Aline.” The movie follows a “Behind the Music” format, by chronicling the rise of Aline from obscurity in Québec, to Canadian fame, to eventual international superstardom. Nearly one-third of the movie (which is told in chronological order) is about Aline under the age of 18. The movie shows Aline (just like the real Dion) growing up as a shy and introverted child in a loving and opinionated family that included her butcher father Anglomard Dieu (played by Roc Lafortune); her homemaker mother Sylvette Dieu (played by Danielle Fichaud); and eight sisters and five brothers.

Aline, the youngest child in her immediate family, first sings in front of an audience at the age of 5, at the wedding of one of her brothers. She instantly wows the crowd, of course. Aline and some of her siblings begin performing in the Dieu Family Band. (When she was a child, Dion also was in a singing group with some of her siblings.) The “Aline” movie also shows how—just like Dion in real life—Aline disliked school because other students bullied and teased her for her physical appearance of being very thin and having crooked teeth.

By the age of 12, Aline is co-writing songs and singing on Canadian television. And she catches the attention of a talent manager named Guy-Claude Kamar (played by Sylvain Marcel), who’s old enough to be Aline’s father. There are some “I can make this kid a star” scenarios, which lead to Guy-Claude signing on as Aline’s manager. But his feelings for her aren’t fatherly at all.

The movie is deliberately murky on some of the details (probably for legal reasons), but Guy-Claude (a very married man with adult children) and Aline eventually fall in love with each other when she’s in her mid-teens. “Aline” depicts it as a chaste romance, where Aline and Guy-Claude would just look at each other lovingly and occasionally hug and hold hands. According to this movie, when Aline and Guy-Claude would travel together, he would just tuck her into bed at various hotels, and there would be no sexual contact between them when she was an underage child.

If you believe this movie, Guy-Claude’s personality was so charming, Aline was the one who wanted the relationship to turn sexual, but Guy-Claude turned down her “advances” until she was at the legal age of consent for a sexual relationship. (In Canada, 16 is the minimum legal age of consent for sexual activities.) Viewers can make up their own minds about how realistic or unrealistic the movie’s scenarios are of this underage and sheltered child pushing to have a sexual relationship with an adult who is not only enough to be the child’s parent but also has a position of authority and power over the child.

Aline’s protective mother Sylvette is very suspicious of Guy-Claude’s intentions to become more than Aline’s manager, so Sylvette threatens to harm him if he ever touches Aline inappropriately. Despite these threats, the fact is that Sylvette can’t be with Aline all the time. Aline and Guy-Claude spend a lot of time alone together behind closed doors, as he guides her career to more fame and fortune. Because of the creepy nature of Guy-Claude “falling in love” with underage Aline, it’s another reason why the scenes of Aline as a child make the movie look very awkward.

After a number of years, Aline becomes a legal adult. Guy-Claude announces that he’s getting divorced, and he eventually marries Aline. Her parents and siblings give begrudging approval, and they eventually accept Guy-Claude into the Dieu family. This acceptance probably had a lot to do with the fact that Guy-Claude was making Aline rich and famous.

The movie gets a little more interesting during this celebrity part of Aline’s life, but Lemercier’s performance as the adult Aline is still tainted by all the icky earlier scenes of her portraying a child who was seduced (and some would say exploited) by a man old enough to be her father. Marcel’s actor interpretation of Guy-Claude is as someone who was “misunderstood” and protective of Aline, while other people might see Guy-Claude’s attitude toward Aline as obsessive and controlling. The rest of the cast members’ performances are mediocre at best.

Every “inspired by” biopic about a famous entertainer has to include some tragedy and heartbreak, with the entertainer usually finding some way to recover on the road to a comeback. Unlike most famous singers, Dion (who was born in 1968) has not had a public battle with drug addiction or failed romances as the darkest moments in her life. Her most challenging personal experiences have to do with the deaths of her husband/manager and her brother within a short period of time. On January 14, 2016, Dion’s husband/manager Rene Angélil’s died of throat cancer, at the age of 73, just two days before he would have turned 74. On what would have been his birthday in 2016, Dion’s brother Daniel died of cancer.

Less tragic but still emotionally painful was her struggle to conceive children, which she eventually was able to do with the help of in vitro fertilization. In real life, Dion has three children, all sons: René-Charles (born in 2001) and fraternal twins Eddy and Nelson, born in 2010. The movie includes the expected emotional tug of war she felt when she had to leave her children behind during rigorous touring schedules, or when she couldn’t spend enough time with them as she wanted, because of the demands of her Las Vegas residency.

It’s all recreated in “Aline.” And because Dion’s life has been so public, none of this is spoiler information for the “Aline” movie. What makes it so hard to take is that this movie has a lot of cliché and hokey dialogue. And therefore, no further insight can be gained into what Dion’s life might have been really like behind the scenes, when so many of the movie’s conversations sound fake and too contrived. People can read Dion’s 2001 memoir “My Story, My Dream” for better insight into her early life, instead of the very bland version presented in this movie. And with a total running time of 126 minutes, “Aline” is just a little too long (with uneven pacing that sometimes drags) for what amounts to a scripted movie version of Dion’s Wikipedia page.

One of the ways that the movie badly falters is how it skimps on Aline’s performances, which include just snippets of Dion’s real-life songs. It’s an obvious sign that the movie couldn’t afford or were denied the rights to have renditions of Dion’s songs for longer than a minute. Most of the performances are less than a minute each, and they breeze by like a choppy music video. Victoria Sio, who provides the singing voice of Aline in this movie, does a fairly good impression of the real-life Dion, but this vocal talent can barely be appreciated when the songs aren’t played long enough in “Aline.”

And that’s not a good sign, when the performances are supposed to be the best part of this movie. The concert scenes of superstar Aline have faithful recreations of many of Dion’s real-life costumes and stage moves, but they are all superficial when the music is cut off so abruptly in many of these live performance scenes. Dion’s most famous hit—”My Heart Will Go On,” the Oscar-winning theme from 1997’s “Titanic”—is merely a blip in this assembly-line approach to showing Aline doing what she does best: sing. And a life as full of highs and lows as Dion’s deserves better than being treated as a formula that hits a lot of wrong notes.

Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films released “Aline” in select U.S. cinemas on March 18, 2022, with a wider expansion on April 8, 2022. The movie was released in Canada, France and other countries in 2021.

2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Celine Dion, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots added to lineup

November 13, 2019

The following is a press release from NBC:

A spectacle like no other awaits millions as the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, the nation’s most cherished holiday tradition, once again kicks off the holiday season. Millions of families will tune in to watch the excitement unfold on Thursday, Nov. 28 as Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Al Roker of NBC News’ “TODAY” host the broadcast from 9 a.m.-noon in all time zones that will also include a special debut performance from her new album Courage by the incomparable Celine Dion.

The Macy’s Parade has must-see entertainment for everyone in the family. Joining the festivities will be stars from a variety of global music genres from pop, R&B and country to Latin and K-Pop, with a few noteworthy special appearances thrown in the mix. Appearing or performing onboard one of Macy’s signature floating stages will be Natasha Bedingfield, Black Eyed Peas, Chicago, Ciara, Josh Dela Cruz, Celine Dion, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Debbie Gibson, former NASA astronauts Kay Hire & Janet Kavandi, Chris Janson, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin, NHL legends Dominic Moore and Eddie Olczyk, the cast & Muppets of Sesame Street, NCT 127, Ozuna, Billy Porter, Kelly Rowland, That Girl Lay Lay, TLC, Tenille Townes and Chris Young; with an extra special appearance by the one-and-only Santa Claus.

To kick-off the revelry, a special must-see opening number featuring a who’s who of actors, singers, dancers and more, all joined by the cast and Muppets of Sesame Street, will start the Thanksgiving Day party with a smash.

Following the opener on 34th Street, Broadway’s best shows will take a star turn in front of Macy’s famed flagship with special performances from the casts of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, Beetlejuice, Hadestown and Tina – The Tina Turner Musical. In addition, the show-stopping Radio City Rockettes® will bring their signature high-kicking magic to Herald Square.

Since November 1924, the magic of the holiday season has begun with the march of the Macy’s Parade as it enthrals the nation with its signature mix of whimsical elements and special performances. For the 93rd edition, the line-up will feature 16 giant character balloons; 40 novelty balloons, heritage balloons, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 26 floats; 1,200 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; and 11 marching bands.

“We are thrilled to present the 93rd edition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to our viewers nationwide,” said Doug Vaughan, Executive Vice President, Special Programs, NBC Entertainment. “This iconic tradition will once again jump start the holiday season with a celebration led by an incredible lineup of performers, bands, floats, balloons and more.”

For the fourth year, Macy’s, along with NBCUniversal and Verizon, will give viewers an up close and personal second screen experience of the Parade with a 360-degree livestream on Verizon’s YouTube page. The stream will go live at 8:30 a.m. EST at www.youtube.com/verizon and will run through noon EST. With exclusive access to cameras along the entire Parade route, online spectators will get a glimpse of the magic behind the scenes, as well as a preview of what’s to come as the Parade marches down the streets of Manhattan. Additional information on the livestream to be announced soon.

New giant balloons joining the line-up this year include Astronaut Snoopy by Peanuts Worldwide, Green Eggs and Ham by Netflix, and SpongeBob SquarePants & Gary by Nickelodeon. In celebration of his 75thbirthday, a heritage balloon and fan-favorite will return to the Parade as Smokey Bear returns to the skies over Manhattan.

Since 2005, the Macy’s Parade has also been home to a collection of high-flying artworks created in collaboration with renowned contemporary artists, as part of a special series titled Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery. This year, for the eighth edition of the collection, the world’s most renowned female contemporary artist will take her iconic art to new heights as Yayoi Kusama joins the Macy’s Parade with her Love Flies Up to the Sky balloon creation. The balloon design was developed by the artist from face motifs that appear in her “My Eternal Soul” series of paintings — a body of work that she began in 2009. Vibrant and animated, the paintings embody Kusama’s innovative exploration of form and revolve around a tension between abstraction and figuration. The artist’s signature dots, which recur throughout her practice, also feature prominently in the Macy’s Parade balloon design. Previous balloons in the Macy’s Parade Blue Sky Gallery series have included works from famed artists Tom Otterness, Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Takashi Murakami, Tim Burton, KAWS and FriendsWithYou.

This year five new floats will debut, including Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues & You! (Josh Dela Cruz), The Brick-changer by The Lego Group (NCT 127), Home Sweet Home by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® (Tenille Townes), Rexy in the City by COACH® (Billy Porter), and Toy House of Marvelous Milestones by New York Life (Kelly Rowland).

The nation’s best marching bands bring the beat to the holiday revelry. For this year’s 93rd march, 11 of the specially chosen ensembles will ignite coast-to-coast excitement and hometown pride as they step off and perform on the streets of the Big Apple. This year’s bands include Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band (St. Petersburg, FL), Blue Springs High School Golden Regiment (Blue Springs, MO), Catalina Foothills Falcon Band (Tucson, AZ), Franklin Regional Panther Band (Murrysville, PA), Macy’s Great American Marching Band (United States), Madison Central High School Band (Richmond, KY), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School’s Kings of Halftime (Lithonia, GA), Morgan State University’s The Magnificent Marching Machine (Baltimore, MD), NYPD Marching Band (New York, NY), Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band (San Antonio, TX) and Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band (Cullowhee, NC).

Entertaining the crowds with their signature exuberance will be the Parade’s signature large and specialty performance groups. Joining the line-up this year are the teen dancers and cheerleaders of Spirit of America Dance Stars and Spirit of America Cheer. These groups together feature more than 1,200 of the very best performers recruited from hometowns nationwide. Days before Thanksgiving, they will gather for the first time in New York City to rehearse their numbers as a group, ahead of their once-in-a-lifetime national spotlight. Adding some wacky 1980s style dancing will be the hilarious 610 Stompers (New Orleans, LA), with modern dance youth talent showcased by The Alvin Ailey School (New York, NY) and the tap dance theatrics of children from The Nice List (New York, NY). Rounding out the performance group line-up and joining select talent performances will be Gamma Phi Circus (Normal, IL), Manhattan Youth Ballet (New York, NY), the dance stars of the world-renowned in-school arts education program National Dance Institute (New York, NY) and Young People’s Chorus of NYC (New York, NY).

PLEASE NOTE: All talent, performers, elements and information included are subject to change.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast is produced by the Emmy Award-winning Brad Lachman Productions. Brad Lachman serves as executive producer, Bill Bracken will co-executive produce and Ron de Moraes directs.

For an insider’s look at the holiday procession, fans nationwide should visit macys.com/parade for regular updates including behind-the-scenes previews, special tours, interactive historical information, and more. Fans can also follow @macys on various social networks and join the conversation using #MacysParade.

New Year’s Eve specials ringing in 2018 will feature Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and more

December 26, 2017

by Carla Hay

Watching a New Year’s Eve special on TV is a tradition for millions of people around the world. For the first time in several years, NBC won’t be having a New Year’s Eve special this year. However, other networks are continuing the tradition. Here’s what is planned for the three biggest New Year’s TV specials in the United States:

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2018 

Ryan Seacrest (center) and Mariah Carey (far right) on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017"
Ryan Seacrest (center) and Mariah Carey (far right) on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2017” (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC)

Celebrating its 46th year, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (which is produced by Dick Clark Productions and airs in the U.S. on ABC) is still the most high-profile televised New Year’s Eve event. Mariah Carey wants a do-over of her embarrassing New Year’s Eve performance in the previous year, when she cut short her set after blaming technical difficulties on the show’s producers, who denied that they did anything wrong. Carey is back to try and redeem herself by headlining the show again this year in New York City’s Times Square. Ryan Seacrest will once again host the show, which begins airing at 8 p.m. ET. Jenny McCarthy will provide on-site reporting. Other performers in Times Square include Camila Cabello, Nick Jonas and Sugarland.

Ciara will host the Los Angeles segments of the show that will feature performances that were mostly previously recorded. Artists in the show’s Los Angeles segments will include Kane Brown, BTS, Kelly Clarkson, Fitz & The Tantrums, Florida Georgia Line, Halsey, Khalid, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, Portugal. The Man and Hailee Steinfeld, and all-star collaborations from Alessia Cara and Zedd, G-Eazy and Halsey, Khalid with Marshmello, Bebe Rexha featuring Florida Georgia Line, and Hailee Steinfeld and Alesso featuring Florida Georgia Line and watt. Also in the Pacific Time Zone, Britney Spears will perform from The AXIS at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. It will be her final show of her Planet Hollywood residency, which began in 2013.

Meanwhile, actress Lucy Hale (former star of “Pretty Little Liars”) will host the show’s second annual Central Time Zone celebration from New Orleans. Imagine Dragons will perform from the Allstate Fan Fest, while Walk the Moon will do a performance leading up to the midnight countdown and fleur-de-lis drop near Jackson Square.

Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square

Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey (Photo by Brian Bowen Smith/Fox)

After televising its New Year’s Eve show (hosted by Pitbull) from Miami for the previous three years, Fox is changing locations and hosts this year. On site at New York City’s Times Square, comedian/talk-show host Steve Harvey and former E! personality Maria Menounous will co-host the show, which airs on Fox from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET live; CT/MT/PT tape-delayed. Performers will include Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys, Macklemore featuring Skylar Grey, Flo Rida, Neil Diamond, Andra Day, Maroon 5 and the Zac Brown Band. “Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square” is produced by IMG, which also produces Harvey’s self-titled talk show, as well as the Miss Universe Pageant and “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” which have been hosted by Harvey over the past few years.

December 28, 2017 UPDATE: Actor/comedian Rob Riggle has joined the lineup of celebrities appearing on Fox’s New Year’s Eve show, while “Beat Shazam” host Jamie Foxx will be featured on the show to announce a special surprise.

New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper (Photo courtesy of CNN)

Longtime friends Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will co-host CNN’s New Year’s Eve celebration, which begins at 8 p.m. ET. CNN’s New Year’s Eve show, which is telecast live from New York City’s Times Square, focuses more on news and comedic commentary instead of on-site, live musical performances that are found on America’s broadcast networks.  However, there will be performances of Keith Urban in Nashville and Celine Dion in Las Vegas. This year, Cohen replaces Kathy Griffin, who was notoriously fired from the show in May 2017, for publicly posting a photo of herself holding up a fake bloody head of President Donald Trump. Griffin and Cooper had co-hosted CNN’s New Year’s Eve Show since 2007. Cooper and Cohen have an established rapport, since they have done numerous speaking engagements together. New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen has not announced if any other celebrities will be guests on the show, so expect the possibility of surprise guests.

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