Depicting the thorny relationship shared by pop star and fan, Emmanuelle Bercot’s Backstage radiates not the nostalgic sentimentality of Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous but raw, pathetic, obsessive desperation. Lucie (Isild Le Besco) is stunned when she returns home one day to find that her mother has surreptitiously signed her up for a reality TV show that involves a surprise visit and performance from her favorite singer Lauren (Emmanuelle Seigner). Incapable of coping with the filmed-for-TV moment, Lucie is nonetheless motivated by the incident to abandon her unhappy suburban family life for Paris, where she quickly gains entrée into pill-popping Lauren’s inner circle of harried assistants, managers, and security staff. Bercot’s over-the-top representation of Lauren’s frazzled hotel-room existence benefits immensely from DP Agnes Godard’s grimy, underlit cinematography, which quietly mirrors the moral miasma engulfing artist and admirer. Moreover, while the inclusion of U2’s lovely “Love Is Blindness” serves as an unflattering counterpoint to Lauren’s hit songs (penned by Laurent Marimbert and sung by Seigner herself), Seigner and Le Besco’s performances bring an imposing chilliness and anxious fervor, respectively, to the often-overstated melodrama. That Lauren’s celebreality is a far cry from her glamorous public image is no more shocking than the film’s conception of fandom as a consuming passion prone to corrupt. Yet there’s more to Backstage than such mundane truisms, as what eventually surfaces from Lauren’s self-centered neediness and Lucie’s lesbian-tinged fixation (taking the form of wanting to not only be with, but actually be, her musical idol) is a portrait of the symbiotic nature of fame, which requires both stars’ egotism and followers’ infatuation. And thus what reverberates most authentically isn’t the story’s histrionic schemes, betrayals, and revelations involving Lucie’s affair with Lauren’s estranged boyfriend (Samuel Benchetrit), but the sight of a supposedly disgusted Lauren—after telling an overwhelmed Lucie not to give the TV cameras the satisfaction of seeing her cry—failing to suppress a pleased smile at the knowledge that her stardom elicits such devastating devotion.
- Strand Releasing
- 112 min
- Emmanuelle Bercot
- Emmanuelle Bercot, Jérôme Tonnerre
- Emmanuelle Seigner, Isild Le Besco, Noémie Lvovsky, Valéry Zeitoun, Samuel Benchetrit, Édith Le Merdy
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