C-

Backstage

There's a certain propriety to the fan/star relationship, and though the fans may believe otherwise, they need the boundaries as much as the stars. Because what happens if a fan and a celebrity have an encounter beyond a handshake and an autograph? What if they get to hang out together? Once they get beyond "I love your work," what the hell are they going to talk about?

Emmanuelle Bercot's Backstage never satisfactorily answers that question, though the movie is meant to be about that awkward relationship between the adorer and the adored. Emmanuelle Seigner plays a pop singer—half Madonna, half Céline Dion—who pays a surprise visit to the backwater home of one of her fans as part of a TV special. The fan, Isild Le Besco, freaks out and locks herself in her bedroom. Later, when she realizes she's missed her one chance to spend quality time with her favorite person in the world, Le Besco dashes to Seigner's Paris hotel, where she works her way through the crowd of gawkers and stalkers because hey, she and Seigner are old pals. And oddly enough, once Seigner gets over her initial defensiveness, she's glad Le Besco is there. She hires the girl as her assistant, sending her out to fetch tampons and tranquilizers, and to keep ex-boyfriend Samuel Benchetrit at bay.

Backstage's main problem is Bercot's insistence on pumping an essentially comic story full of existential dread. It's initially fascinating to see how Le Besco doggedly refuses to be disillusioned by Seigner's diva demands, or the world-weariness of her entourage. (When Seigner gets huffy and snaps that she'll never sing again, Le Besco actually believes her.) But instead of exploring the full measure of joy and heartache that might come with suddenly befriending pop royalty, Bercot serves up scene after scene of Seigner's callous cruelty and Le Besco's unflagging naïveté, right up to the point where everything starts to shatter and a love triangle develops between the star, the fan, and the hapless Benchetrit. Bercot moves the characters up and down like lines on a chart, never granting full access to what any of them are thinking. And access is what Backstage promised.

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