Director Michel Leclerc delivers the whimsically comical film in the “Names of Love” that never misses an opportunity to poke fun or even jab at highly controversial social issues that often elicits strong emotional reactions, but in the hands of Leclerc those emotions are pleasure and mirth.
Baya Benmahmoud (Sara Forestier) is a young half Algerian liberal. Arthur (Jacques Gamblin) is a middle aged Jewish moderate. Baya takes the old slogan “Make love, not war” literally. She tries to save the world from right-wing men by converting them to her line of thinking… one man at a time… by seducing with them. Arthur on the other hand can’t even find a date, let alone seduce someone. Besides Arthur is ineffectual and noncommittal politically. Two people couldn’t be more different. Yet Baya is attracted to Arthur because of their similar familial tragedies, hers the Algerian War and his the Holocaust. And these two who should be divided by age, passion, politics and religion, fall in love.
Baya disrupts Arthur’s orderly life as she pursue her political calling all the while forcing him to confront issues like Arab-Jewish relations, anti-Semitism, immigration, and racial and cultural identity. Amid effervescent humor, vivacious and enthusiastic love and unadulterated zaniness, Leclerc tackles tough political issues without being heavy handed and creates a world that clearly reflects the way he thinks it “ought” to be. Winner of France’s 2011 César Awards for Best Actress (Forestier) and Best Original Screenplay (co-written by Leclerc), “Names of Love” is a film that is as smart as it is funny, that seriously looks at hot-button political issues without taking itself seriously at all. http://www.namesoflovemovie.com/
Opening July 29, 2011, at Landmark’s Clay Theatre in San Francisco and Landmark’s Albany Twin in Albany.
Cast (credited): Jacques Gamblin (Arthur Martin), Sara Forestier (Baya Benmahmoud), Zinedine Soualem (Mohamed Benhmamoud), full cast and crew.
Release Date: 24 November 2010 (Belgium). Written and directed by Michel Leclerc; Released by Music Box Films. Running time: 102 minutes; MPAA R; genre: comedy; language: French.
Pamela Alexander-Beutler is the editor in chief of the ReelMATERIAL film journal. For more of Pamela’s stories, movie reviews and interviews visit www.reelmaterial.com, take a look at her favorite trailers at ReelTRAILERS on YouTube and follower her on twitter @reel_material.