Eye For Film >> Movies >> Barbara (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
The iconic French singer of the title (incarnated by Jeanne Balibar) who has her deep tones pitch perfect, was known as “la dame en noir” or “the lady in black”. Balibar has an amazing presence and a remarkable physical similarity in Mathieu Amalric’s portrait of the singer. But this is no ordinary biopic but rather a fragmented voyage around her, exploring the creative process and an audience’s relationship to its idols.
Balibar, who is Amalric’s ex-wife, has also experience as a professional singer which shows in the way she relates to her clamouring fans.
Amalric ,who won a Cannes best director award for On Tour in 2010, structures it as a film within a film - with himself as the director of it, eavesdropping on rehearsals and following Barbara around in faux cinema verité style.
This can at times make it difficult to follow but it does get to the heart of the singer’s particular style and rather chaotic personal life.
Barbara died some 20 years ago but her music and reputation, particularly in France, live on in her quirky and poetic songs.
It is difficult to think of any other French actress who could have given quite Balibar’s tour de force performance, doubtless also helped by the continuing complicity between her and Amarlic.
The best way to get the most out of the film is to succumb completely to the singer’s breathless voice, sultry eyes and her volatile genius.Reviewed on: 23 May 2017