This French import may be irritating and labored at times as it exposes a woman using sex for her political tenets. But, The Names of Love (fully subtitled, though a bit difficult at times due to the lightness of many backgrounds) has enough means to seduce as art-house entertainment. Maybe with unanticipated explicitness (at least in one scene) for patrons mislead by its title.
Michel Leclerc's film touches on ethnic prejudices and immigration, among other issues, but has more romantic inklings for its main conflict.
The character of Bahia Benmahoud, a taxed 20-ish Algerian woman, has a left-wing extroverted life. One where she takes it upon herself to have liaisons to proselytize conservatives.
Her personal goal is complicated when meeting middle-aged Jewish scientist Arthur (Jacques Gamblin). This latest potential conquest has imaginary conversations with his early teen self, and obviously is an unlikely partner for Bahia though a familial kindredness exists between them.
Perhaps the main relationship unfolds with odd resonance, and is more synchronized for native audiences with its share of droll, wacky panache. A loopy Bahia is comfortable with herself, enough so, that she can carry on a conversation on her way to the Metro without a thread on.
What does try to make good on its thematic intent to noticeable tedious effect still has plenty of flash of its leading gadfly lady. Sara Forestier limns an audacious, vivacious presence that makes The Names of Love better than it really is.
|The Names of Love||B-||B-|