Directed by Florent-Emilio Siri. Starring Jérémie Renier, Benoît Magimel, Monica Scattini, Sabrina Seyvecou Club, Light House, Dublin, 148 min
AND NOW the end is near.
No it’s not. There’s two more hours worth of biographical details to go.
In 1975, Claude François, a singer affectionately known as Cloclo in his native France, narrowly missed an IRA bombing in London. We mention the incident as it may be the only chapter in Cloclo’s life and career not to feature in this unnecessarily detailed, arc-free biopic.
There’s more than a hint of a breathless, excitable child about the film’s structure. Claude Antoine Marie was born in Egypt, where his father worked as a shipping controller on the Suez Canal.
The family then moved to Monaco, where Claude played drums with big bands in swish hotels. And then he moved to Paris, where he landed a contract with Philips Records, mostly as a karaoke artist translating American hits. And then he divorced his first wife and took up with Eurovision star France Gall. And then he went disco and met Isabelle Forêt, the mother of his two sons. And then . . . well, you get the idea.
Propped up by a plot that appears to have been written by Wikipedia and edited to form a bunch of stuff, Cloclo’s money shot is Claude listening to My Way, the Frank Sinatra cover of the Gallic star’s Comme d’habitude. Almost everything else on screen makes us think we’re watching a showband makeweight made good.
The model here, one suspects is La Vie en Rose, another bunch of stuff biopic jollied along by a big musical number and a bigger lead performance. Sure enough, Belgian actor Jérémie Renier (In Bruges, The Kid with a Bike, Potiche) puts in a fantastically energised turn as Cloclo. He whoops, he contorts, he minces, but his conviction can’t quite overcome a film that’s hagiographic and sanitised enough to warrant an all-ages certificate, yet honest enough to present a ghastly human being.
Enraged and envious, Renier’s Cloclo screams at France down the phone when she has the gall to win the Eurovision and hides his second son from the public. Two- and-a-half hours is far more of our time than he deserves.