Synopsis: Baya Benmahmoud, a young, extroverted liberal, lives by the old hippie slogan: âMake love, not warâ to convert right-wing men to her left-wing political causes by sleeping with them. She seduces many and so far has received exceptional results â until she meets Arthur Martin, a Jewish middle aged, middle-of-the road scientist. Bound by common tragic family histories (the Algerian War and Holocaust under Vichy), the duo improbably falls in love. Amid the bubbly amour, humorous lasciviousness and moments of sheer madness, filmmaker Michel Leclerc injects satirical riffs on such hot-button sociopolitical issues as Arab-Jewish relations, anti-Semitism, immigration, and racial and cultural identity.
Release Date: June 24, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Romance
Director Michel Leclerc has created in The Names of Love a film about two drastically different people finding one another in the midst of their own much needed reconciliations and reflections. On the simplest front the film is a love story. Arthur Martin and Bahia Benmahmoud have the most unlikely of meetings, when she bursts in on him during a radio interview to chastise his remarks and beliefs. As Bahia is not your typical female protagonist she offers to take Arthur home with her, after a quick cup of coffee, because she believes you must have sex on the first date. Arthur, a more conservative older male is taken off guard, and kindly states he must perform an autopsy on a dead bird. The passing up of a tryst with the beautiful and enigmatic Bahia by Arthur is shocking, but it makes perfect sense in the context of his personality. Arthur is not a risk taker, he is a scientist who is very methodical and proper. Bahia is a woman who sleeps with men whom she believes are fascists, or right wing, in order to convert them to the other side of the political spectrum. Technically, Bahia is a whore, but a whore with a grander more positive purpose; whose body is used as a weapon of mass destruction.
Arthur and Bahia quickly meet again, in yet another unexpected moment, and so begins their love affair. But both Arthur and Bahia have a great deal more going on within themselves that dates back to their parent’s generation, and in line with the title of the film, their given names. This is what makes The Names of Love stand apart from any other romance or politically fueled film. It balances the two genres impeccably well, injecting humor at every turn, and allowing these two character’s to flourish amongst each other. The Names of Love is a movie that takes risks but keeps a firm hold on genre specifications to make it accessible to a wide range of audiences. The politics are not overbearing, the love affair is not seeping with amore, and the reflections on the negative that have existed in both Bahia and Arthur’s pasts never depresses but opens ones eyes to a way of telling an important story about the repercussions of history on future generations.
Screenwriter’s Baya Kasmi and Michel Leclerc, who also directs, take romance and politics, family history and secrets, to a humorous level while never forgetting the gravity or seriousness of the matters being discussed in The Names of Love. Bahia and Arthur both come from families with dark pasts and with parent’s who have used French citizenship to their advantage. It all comes down to your name, Arthur’s surname being Martin, a most common name in France and completely devoid of any recollection to his mother’s past as a Jewish child in Poland during WWII. Bahia’s father fled Algeria for France, only to meet her mother who wanted nothing more than to be with someone who was not from France. He found a home, she found a last name that would set her apart from her French upbringing. The politics of what is in a name, and how it affects the children of those with pasts, is chronicled throughout the film with humor, and a deep respect for the character’s emotions. Bahia and Arthur exist as adults, and their actions directly influenced by their family history. Kasmi and Leclerc never falter in presenting two character’s who are inherently flawed, but genuinely benefitted by their experiences. As Bahia and Arthur work through their relationship with one another, as well as coming to terms with what their surnames represent for them, it creates a rich story worthy of attention for it’s honesty and audaciousness.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Michel LeclercAntoine Rein
- Producer(s): Baya KasmiMichel Leclerc
- Screenwriter(s): Jacques Gamblin (Arthur Martin)Sara Forestier (Bahia Benmahmoud)Zinedine Soualem (Mohamed Benmahmoud)
- Story: Michele Moretti (Annette Martin)
- Cast: Carole Franck (Cecile Benmahmoud)Jacques Boudet (Lucien Martin) Nathalie HubertVincent Mathias
- Cinematographer: Jerome BensoussanDavid Euverte
- Production Designer(s):
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- Music Score:
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- Country Of Origin: France