Music

Here's everything we know about Aline, the controversial new Céline Dion biopic

A sensation at Cannes, it's causing a lot of ink to be spilled due to the bizarre portrayal of its protagonist.

A sensation at Cannes, it's causing a lot of ink to be spilled due to the bizarre portrayal of its protagonist

Valérie Lemercier portrays a Céline Dion-inspired character in the feature film Aline, set to hit Canadian theatres in November. (Rectangle Productions)

The Céline Dion-inspired film, Aline, has become the talk of this year's Cannes Film Festival — for better and worse.

The only Canadian-produced film to be an official selection at this year's festival, Aline has been described by the press as "crazy," "kooky," "insane" and "horrifying." Despite these hyperbolic descriptions, the film earned a five-minute standing ovation after its screening, a sign of respect and honour at Cannes.

Aline, a French-language film, follows the life and career of pop star Aline Dieu, whose name was changed due to the fact that the film wasn't authorized by Dion herself. (Dion has yet to make a public statement about Aline.) But its story borrows many facts to create its fictitious world, too, which also includes some of Dion's actual music thanks to music supervisors Pascal Mayer and Steve Bouyer, who most recently worked on the Netflix hit series, Lupin

While critics appear to be baffled by certain aspects of the film, many of them, such as Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson, believe that it's a film that "must be seen to be believed." 

Not set to hit theatres in Canada until later this fall, Aline has got us curious. Scroll below to see everything we've learned about the film after its world premiere this week.  

Are you excited to watch Aline? Tell us how you feel about the film @CBCMusic.


It's not to be confused with the other movie about Dion

Aline isn't the only film set to come out about the life of Dion. In 2019, it was announced that Quebec director Marc-André Lavoie would be working on a movie tentatively titled Céline Before Celine. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lavoie's project will not only be in English, but will look specifically at the singer's early life leading up to fame. There is currently no release date for Céline Before Celine.

The film is inspired by Dion, but not a factual retelling of her life story 

While everyone has billed Aline a Dion movie, a disclaimer at the beginning of the film warns viewers that, "This film is inspired by the life of Céline Dion. It is, however, a work of fiction." Characters' names have all been changed — Dion is Aline Dieu and René Angélil goes by the name Guy-Claude Kamar — but much of the plot stays faithful to Dion's career. Her Las Vegas residency is prominently featured as well as her 1998 Oscar performance of "My Heart Will go On."

Its star (and director), Valérie Lemercier, plays multiple versions of Dion — including her at 5 years old

French comedian Valérie Lemercier plays the title role, and her commitment to playing Dion/Aline is one of the film's biggest points of contention/confusion. Lemercier not only portrays adult Dion, but her face is also digitally placed onto the body of a child at one point, roughly around the age of five. As the New York Times wrote: "Shrunk to Hobbit size and Facetuned into near-oblivion, Lemercier scampers, preens and unnerves."

While the movie's protagonist is named Aline Dieu, she performs real Dion songs

Fiction and reality really start to collide in the film's music. According to Vulture, Aline secured the rights to "My Heart Will Go On" in addition to many of Dion's famous covers like "River Deep, Mountain High" and "What a Wonderful World."

The movie focuses on Dion's relationship with René Angélil 

While Dion has created a decades-long career that is worthy of an hours-long biopic, Aline appears to focus less on her professional achievements and more on the contentious relationship she had with her manager, Angélil, who was 46 years old when he began a romantic relationship with a then 18-year-old Dion.

A Daily Beast review noted: "The film depicts this union between a teenage singer and her manager, who first met her when she was 12, with no criticism whatsoever. This feels like a madness: it must have been politic for the filmmakers to tell the story in this way, for legal reasons, but there is a deep awkwardness in that relationship, and it simply does not work as a heartwarming romance." 

Aline's cast includes Québécois and French actors

While Aline's central character is played by an actor from France, the two other principals are Canadian.

The role of Aline's manager and love interest, Guy-Claude Kamar, who's inspired by René Angélil, is played by Sylvain Marcel, best-known as Luc Therrien in Bon Cop, Bad Cop and for his humorous Familiprix ads. Danielle Fichaud plays Aline's mother, Sylvette Dieu, in a performance that Vulture describes as "scene-stealing, Olympia Dukakis-in-Moonstruck-esque."

Other prominent Canadians in the cast include Roc Lafortune as Aline's father, and Pascale Desrochers as her sister.

The film opens Nov. 26 in Canada

Aline had been scheduled to open in November 2020 in France and Canada, but got delayed a year due to COVID-19. Its official Canadian release date has been set for Nov. 26.

Aline Dieu's singing voice is dubbed

Apart from the above-mentioned covers and the lone Dion original, "My Heart Will go On," Aline's singing voice is dubbed by French singer Victoria Sio, who does a killer Dion impersonation.

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