The Unicorn Scale: Love Songs

4/11/2018

Welcome back to The Unicorn Scale. Today we’re going international and taking a look at one of my favorite movies of all time, “Les Chansons d’Amour” (2007) or “Love Songs”.

At it’s simplest, this is a contemporary musical about a man who loses his girlfriend and falls in love with another man. The songs are incredibly catchy and much more in the style of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” than “Oklahoma!” If you aren’t familiar with how our unicorn scale works, check this out. From here on out there will be big spoilers.

What I Like:

This movie starts out with a throuple: Ismael, Julie, and Alice. They are all beautiful people, and I’m sure they have a very sexy time together, but they are also beautifully normal. They all lay in bed together while Julie and Alice try to remember if Julie took her birth control. They fight playfully to be the one in the middle. They read in bed, they sleep. They are the least sensational threesome I’ve ever seen on the screen and it’s really nice. Both women are very open about their attraction to each other as well; this is not an act they put on for Ismael.

They are also very honest about their jealousy and about the emotional complexity of a throuple. This isn’t a deal breaker, it’s still worth it to all of them, but it is something they talk about and work through.

When Julie suddenly dies, the throuple falls apart. Alice and Ismael remain friends, but the romance is over.

Ismael spends a night on Alice’s couch and runs into one of her roommates, Erwann. Erwann is clearly smitten and begins to pursue Ismael.

Slowly Ismael finds himself in Erwann’s bed over and over. He is still grieving, but he is also falling in love.

Again, I love how unsensationally their romance grows. Ismael isn’t cured overnight, he slowly recovers from his grief, he remains close to Julie’s family, and he finally learns to be happy again. Yes, falling in love with Erwann is a part of that, but it is not the only thing.

The film even manages to touch on the reality of biphobia. When Julie’s sister finds Ismael and Erwann in bed together, she is enraged. Not because he’s sleeping around, she’s already walked in on him with another woman, but because Erwann is a man. She storms off, saying that she understands all the problems in his and Julie’s relationship, and implies that he must have been in the closet the whole time. I’m sure this is something we’ve all seen or heard more than once.

It is refreshing that Ismael’s main conflict has nothing to do with his sexuality. Instead, he is torn between his grief and his future, which really is a much more interesting conflict. The fact that his past was a woman and his future is a man seems to be purely coincidental.

Remember how I said that even though they were no longer in a relationship, Ismael and Alice remain friends? I meant it. They remain such good friends that she is the one who drags a morose Ismael to Erwann and literally puts Ismael in Erwann’s arms. The movie is called “Love Songs” plural, after all. It manages to look at all the different ways we can love someone: romantically, sexually, as family, and as a true friend. Ismael and Alice, even when they were sleeping in the same bed, didn’t seem particularly romantic. However, they had a profound friendship that transcended romance and stayed strong after they were no longer sharing a bed. So many depictions of polyamory, and break ups in general, are so sensational; I really appreciate that these two were allowed to have a sane and loving friendship throughout the film.

What I Don’t Like:

I could complain about the fact that no one says they’re bi, but everyone is so open about their sexuality, it is a musical, and I have no idea what the cultural context is in France, so I’m going to let it slide.

Also, this isn’t the movie’s fault, but if I find this on one more “gay film” list, I’ll scream. This is a very bi movie, with many bi characters who are very open about their attraction to multiple genders.

The Rating:

An incredible and wildly romantic movie that shows us there is no right way to be in love.

 

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Talia Squires
Talia Squires is Editor-in-chief of bi.org. Talia has a degree in German Literature from Bryn Mawr College and a Master's in Critical Studies from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She's obsessed with good food, fantastic wine, and trashy television. She lives in LA with her husband and fluffy Lhasa Apso.