choices were made

We need to talk about the divisive new Celine Dion biopic

Valerie Lemercier Aline
Valérie Lemercier as Aline Dieu (Gaumont)

There are bad movies, and then there are BAD movies: movies so ridiculous they come all the way back around again to beloved territory; think “Trolls 2,” “Showgirls,” and the king of all bad movies, “The Room.” The phenomenon has even birthed intentionally dumb movies, like “Snakes on a Plane” and the “Sharknado” series.

And then there are movies like Aline,” the fictionalized, unauthorized Celine Dion biopic…of sorts…that leaves people wondering, ‘What exactly is going on here and how should I feel about it?’

The French-Canadian drama sees 57-year-old Valérie Lemercier starring as not-quite-but-basically Dion (“Aline Dieu”) at all ages, including childhood. Yes, you read that correctly, Lemercier, who also directed the film, plays Dion/Dieu throughout her life, including as a five-year-old, with the help of CGI. This choice of all choices has critics and regular moviegoers alike trying to determine why one wouldn’t just cast child actors who look similar to Dion instead of superimposing an adult’s face onto a child’s body.

Is this a case of one of the worst decisions in filmmaking history, or is it actually quietly genius and perfectly camp? Well, it depends on who you ask.

The much-discussed movie premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in July, and had its Canadian premiere in November of last year. It was released in the UK today, but American audiences will have to wait until April 8, when it will see a limited release in the U.S. But already the buzz has grown to quite a pitch, and continues to spread, fueled by the oddness of it all.

“Aline” seems to have perhaps even split the Dion clan, with her godparents objecting to the way the Dion family is portrayed, as well as the film’s inaccuracies, despite it starting with a disclaimer reading: “This film is inspired by the life of Céline Dion. It is, however, a work of fiction.” On the other hand, according to Lemercier, Dion’s son, René-Charles, requested a copy, which the filmmaker hopes means he’ll show it to his famous mother, who has so far been silent on the matter.

celine dion performing
London, UK – July 5th 2019: Celine Dion performs live on stage at British Summertime at Hyde Park o London, England. London, England. (Shutterstock/Tom Rose)

The film has garnered a number of positive reviews from top critics, including Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson, who opined: “The film accesses what lies at the heart of Dion as a public figure: she’s a bit of a weirdo, goofy and corny and gaudy and fabulous.”

But it seems one over-the-top bad review, from The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw, is inspiring Dion fans and cinephiles alike to check out this unique bit of cinema history more than any five-star review ever could.

Bradshaw calls the movie “utterly bizarre,” predicting the opening scenes “will have audiences screaming and running out of the cinemas the way they were mythically supposed to have done at the Lumière brothers’ first silent movie about the arriving train.”

“Even now, I still can’t believe I have seen it,” he adds, clearly bewildered.

Of the choice to have Lemercier play the character at all ages, he asks, “Why? Why in the name of all that is holy do that?” before saying it at least serves as “a point of interest in what is otherwise a desperately bland TV-style film.”

“But that opening section is the scariest thing since ‘The Omen,'” he concludes.

The Twitter takes are a mixed bag, but also show plenty are more than ready to experience the campy carnage for themselves, many in no small part thanks to Bradshaw’s evisceration of it…

Related: Man gets wasted, legally changes his name to Celine Dion