A bunch of buzzy titles will play at the Cannes Film Festival in July. There's Wes Anderson's long-awaited The French Dispatch, starring a long list of his regulars plus new faces like Timothée Chalamet and Elisabeth Moss. Sean Penn directed and stars in Flag Day, about a father who lives a double life as a counterfeiter and bank robber to provide for his daughter. And then there's Aline, the Voice of Love, a French film loosely based on the life of Canadian pop superstar Céline Dion, in which she is hilariously and confusingly named "Aline Dieu."
Lead actress Valérie Lemercier also directed Aline, which seems to center — rather creepily — on the singer's romantic relationship with her much-older manager. That bit, at least, is based on reality: Dion wed her longtime manager, René Angélil, in 1994. They first met in 1980, when she was 12 and he was 38, and things turned romantic when she was 20. Anyhow, Aline uses Dion's songs, like "Let's Talk About Love," and the trailer name-checks her, professing to be a "fiction freely inspired by the life of Céline Dion." But since getting the rights to someone's music and their life story can be complicated, it looks like Lemercier's movie didn't get permission to call the singer by her name.
As Entertainment Weekly first pointed out, the Aline saga hilariously mirrors the plot of a classic 30 Rock episode that parodies these sorts of unauthorized musician biopics. On the show, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) is preparing for a role in an unofficial Janis Joplin movie, but her character is named "Jackie Jormp-Jomp" and she sings "Chunk of My Lung" rather than "Piece of My Heart."
Aline is hardly the first film to run into rights issues. Stardust, a 2017 David Bowie biopic, had permission to use his names but not his songs. Madonna canned a movie about her life, opting instead to co-write her own biopic. Todd Haynes proved in 1998 that not having access to a musician's catalogue didn't have to be a death sentence. When Bowie vetoed the use of his songs, Haynes made Velvet Goldmine using music by other legends like Lou Reed performed by contemporary artists like Thom Yorke.