EVEN when music biopics win Oscars - as the 2018 Freddie Mercury saga Bohemian Rhapsody did -they're still a hard sell with the public these days.

Maybe we've had it with stories of ordinary kids who spin their gifts into superstar gold, or with cornpone conventions like watching an insomniac singer plink out a future hit at the piano.

But whether you love or loathe music-biopic cliches, you've never seen anything like Aline, an unauthorized account of the life of Canadian superstar Celine Dion.

So broadly sketched that it's more a puppet show than a movie, so swollen with sentimentality that it makes the most histrionic Dion ballad seem restrained, so weird in the way it digitally morphs the face and body of a 50-something actor into a sort of AI adolescent, Aline isn't going to win any prizes in the subtlety department.

But it's also compulsively, stupidly watchable.

Valerie Lemercier - who also directed and co-wrote the film - stars as Aline Dieu, the millionth or so child born to a simple couple in a tiny house in Quebec, perpetually nestled among snowdrifts.

Aline can sing, and how! At age 12 - played by a digitally blurred and shrunken Lemercier, like a hobbit imported from Middleearth - she's taken on by a manager, Guy Claude [Sylvain Marcel], who helps her believe in herself.

When a stagehand mocks Aline's not-so-pretty face before a performance, Guy-Claude rushed to her side to assure her she's the best and the most beautiful of them all.

He persuades Aline's protective mother Sylvette [ Danielle Fichaud ] that her daughter's alarmingly pointed canines must be fixed for showbiz reasons.

Teenage Aline, with no friends her own age, falls hard for Guy-Claude; a few years later, their story becomes a romance for the ages.

Meanwhile, her career explodes, leading her to the holy grail of music stardom : a Las Vegas residency.

Did Dion's life go down exactly like this? Does it matter? All biopics are works of invention, and if this one is sillier than most, its tinselly eccesses at least give it go-for-brook conviction.

Aline Dieu, mon Dieu! She'll make a believer out of you.

The World Students Society thanks author Stephanie Zacharek.


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