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CANNES 2024 Semaine de la Critique

Crítica: Les Reines du drame


- CANNES 2024: Alexis Langlois utiliza las herramientas del musical rock y la imaginería de De Palma para narrar una historia de amor muy gay, que podría haber llegado más lejos

Crítica: Les Reines du drame
Louiza Aura en Les Reines du drame

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

What will social media and pop culture look like in 25 years? In Alexis Langlois’s debut feature, Queens of Drama [+lee también:
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, influencers will still exist in the year 2055, and they will be the keepers of history. The French director’s film, which has premiered in the Critics’ Week at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, opens with Steevyshady (played by real-life French influencer Bilal Hassani) addressing the audience and their followers directly before telling them the epic and tumultuous love story that generated all the clicks 50 years prior, but has since been forgotten – that between teen pop star Mimi Madamour (Louiza Aura) and punk outcast Billie Kohler (Gio Ventura). Their names already foretell their melodramatic story: Mimi is mad for love, while Billie has anger (colère in French) issues.

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From the opening credits onwards, glitter fills the screen, and Steevyshady sets the campy tone of the whole enterprise with their extravagance and a fair warning that this movie won’t be suited to either right-wing or homophobic people. Irreverent and passionate, our host looks back on the occasion of the 50-year anniversary of Mimi’s debut album, the one that made her a sensation and triggered the romantic whirlwind that would come to define her and Billie’s lives.

Music is indeed a big part of this romance, and of the film itself. In 2006, shy Mimi and rebellious Billie meet at open auditions for a reality-TV singing competition. The former makes it to the next stage, and the latter ends up getting kicked out of the room for shouting at the committee, but an irresistible spark has been ignited between the two wildly different girls. Brian De Palma’s rock musical satire Phantom of the Paradise is an evident inspiration for these casting scenes, as Mimi is at once criticised for her appearance and told that all of her dreams will come true, but Langlois transposes the codes of the grotesque, garish De Palma-esque thriller to tell a queer story, bringing out the campiness inherent in the US filmmaker’s exaggerated and confrontational style. Inevitably, Mimi goes through a complete makeover to be turned into a more mainstream and sexualised starlet, a Faustian selling of her soul and identity. We thus have a story of being closeted: Mimi must hide her queerness if she wants to stay popular. While all of the songs in the film are rather ridiculous, Mimi’s are anthems to hetero-patriarchal ideas of womanhood, while Billie’s are explicit, as gay as it gets, and extremely angry.

The two girls try to date in secret, writing a song together that features the lyrics “You fist me up to my heart” and whose open vulgarity mixed with tenderness recalls the works of both Gregg Araki and Yann Gonzales. Yet Mimi’s success soon drives them apart, and a great feud begins between the ex-lovers. With references to Britney Spears’ tabloid scandals and Madonna’s appetite for Botox, as well as a visual style and tone happily veering into Ru Paul’s Drag Race territory at times, Queens of Drama tells a classic story while embracing extremes with both humour and absolute sincerity. By starting his tale in 2005, Langlois also gives it a political edge, reminding us that France was still very homophobic only 20 years ago. When we are then taken to 2055, we enter a fantasy realm that fits with the film's overall style and fabulist tone: everything will be possible then.

Eager to show queerness as dramatic but not tragic, Langlois doesn’t always go far enough into the pain that his characters endure, and Queens of Drama eventually feels paradoxically quite safe. Convenient narrative turns deflate the film of its energy and make it predictable, yet it remains satisfying to see genre filmmaking repurposed to tell such a heartfelt, queer and happy story.

Queens of Drama was produced by France’s Les Films du Poisson and Belgium’s Wrong Men. Charades is handling its international sales.

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(Traducción del inglés)

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