Love Songs

Review - Love Songs

Published: July 23, 1986, Wednesday

IN the long list of Catherine Deneuve's films, works of high art live beside treacly star turns.

At her best - in ''Belle de Jour'' or ''The Last Metro'' - she is a stern, stunning actress; then there are movies in which she simply looks gorgeous and whispers sentimental nothings in her leading man's ear, as in ''The April Fools.'' ''Love Songs'' is definitely in the ''April Fools'' category.

Ms. Deneuve plays a Parisian talent agent and mother whose American husband, feeling claustrophobic, takes off. Margaux takes up with Jeremy, (Christopher Lambert, better known as Tarzan in ''Greystoke'') the muscular, handsome half of an about-to-be-discovered singing duo. She is cool and efficient. He is intense, his hair always falling in his face. They don't mention the fact that he's at least a dozen years her junior; their love seems inevitable just because they are the two best-looking people in this movie. Before long we have numerous scenes of Jeremy leaving Margaux's apartment at sunrise while the street-sweeping trucks drive by - so he won't scandalize her children.

We get an even greater number of musical scenes, however, featuring the dubbed-in voices of Jeremy and his partner, Michel (Richard Anconina), the short, plain-looking part of the duo. Composed by Michel Legrand, whose scores for films like ''Summer of '42'' can be appropriately lush, these intended pop rock songs are born to be Muzak. Gene McDaniels's lyrics include such lines as ''Share the love with everybody'' and ''Do the samba with me.'' It's beyond imagining: that two scruffy but straight-arrow guys in their late 20's, singing middle-aged pop tunes, cause adolescent girls to jump and squeal. In real life, the average 13-year-old would laugh these two off the stage, sending them right back to Mom and Dad's easy-listening radio station.

If ''Love Songs'' seems geriatric when it tries to be young and hip, it becomes adolescent when it aims for romance. Love is proved by Jeremy's impulsive arrivals on Margaux's doorstep, and his tendency to doze off before and during auditions. After all those sleepless nights, Michel calls his partner ''a zombie'' and is forced to begin a solo career.

Will Margaux reunite her family? Will Jeremy learn to value Michel's friendship and resume his career? Elie Chouraqui might have enlivened things if he had abandoned these vague ideas about character and plot and resigned himself to directing one long silly love song. As true romantic escapism, the film might at least have looked pretty. But Margaux's rambling, high-ceiling apartment is drab, and even Paris looks washed-out.

''Love Songs,'' which opens today at the Plaza, is a French and Canadian co-production, which may explain some of the peculiarities of language and setting. All the songs are performed in English; the dialogue is in French (subtitled) with a smattering of English, and there is a climactic scene in Montreal, where Margaux's husband - played by the unmistakably American Nick Mancuso, of television's ''Stingray'' - has illogically fled. Some films are labors of love; it's hard not to think of this tedious work as a labor of money. PAS DE DEUX - LOVE SONGS, directed and written by Elie

Chouraqui; director of cinematography, Robert Alazraki; edited by Noelle Boisson; music by Michel Legrand; produced by Miss Chouraqui and Robert Baylis; released by Spectra Film. At the Plaza, 58th Street east of Madison Avenue. Running time: 107 minutes. This film has no rating. Margaux...Catherine Deneuve; Michel...Richard Anconina; Jeremy...Christopher Lambert; Yves...Jacques Perrin; Peter...Nick Mancuso; Corinne...Dayle Haddon; Charlotte...Charlotte Gainsbourg; Elliot...Frank Ayas; Florence...Dominique Lavanant; Julie...Nelly Borgeaud; Alain...Lazslo Szabo; Jean-Paul...Inigo Lezzi; Claire...Julie Ravix; Gruber...Lionel Rocheman; Switchboard Operator...Yuni Fujimori.

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