But if she’d attended the premiere on Tuesday night in the South of France, it’s hard to know if she’d be flattered or horrified. The most likely answer? Probably both.
“Aline” is directed by and stars comedian Valerie Lemercier (think of her as the Kristen Wiig or Ana Gasteyer of France) in the title role, a musical sensation known as Aline Dieu.
“Aline” is more of an homage — perhaps the shiniest Lifetime movie to premiere at Cannes — than a roman à clef. From the opening credits, the movie admits to being inspired by Dion’s career, and it often plays like a paint-by-the-numbers biopic.
But not always. Rather than hiring a child actor, Lemercier, who is 57, plays Dion — or make that Dieu — at every age in the film, starting as a 12-year-old girl, living with her large French-Canadian family and harboring dreams of becoming a singer.
The black-tie, buttoned-up Cannes crowd seemed to be pumped for the occasion, with a few Celine super fans bringing their own Las Vegas style to the Palais. One man donned leopard pants and a matching print on his face mask.
— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) July 13, 2021
“Aline” recreates some of Dion’s biggest career moments, including her 1999 performance of the Oscar-winning “Titanic” song “My Heart Will Go On” at the Oscars.
Like Celine, Aline marries her manager (played in the film by Sylvain Marcel), moves to Vegas for a never-ending residency and struggles with infertility before giving birth to her three children, a boy followed by twins. The songs in the film are not sung by Lemercier (who lip syncs to a smattering of Dion tracks, such as “Let’s Talk About Love” on a revolving loop, performed by another singer).
As the credits rolled, the premiere audience whooped with approval. The standing ovation for “Aline” lasted for a full five minutes.
“I was actually crying,” said one French attendee at the film’s bittersweet conclusion.
“Aline” does not yet have distribution in the United States.