Only those prepared to swallow the long-winded storytelling and patchy charm of Christophe Honoré’s ‘Beloved’ are likely to find this decade-hopping, musical-realist study of love and loss truly appealing. With songs à la Jacques Demy and La Deneuve in a starring role, its love of French film is palpable as we follow free spirit Madeleine (first Ludivine Sagnier, later Catherine Deneuve) from 1964 to 2008. Madeleine falls in love with Czech doctor Jaromil (Radivoje Bukvic) while turning tricks in Paris, gives birth to Véra (played as an adult by Chiara Mastroianni), moves to Prague, and later returns to France. Despite remarrying, she maintains an on-off relationship with Jaromil.
Meanwhile, we track Véra from London to Montreal in her unhappy attempts to find love. The early scenes with Sagnier have real verve, and Honoré handles his first few shifts in time well, but ennui sets in with yet another chapter bringing songs of decreasing quality and events of increasing tiresomeness. Deneuve, as ever, achieves a cool insouciance as family and friends flap around her.