Honestly, I’m actually surprised nobody has tried to make a lavish big-screen biopic out of Celine Dion before 2019. She’s one of the biggest stars on the planet, she’s got a loyal fanbase of millions, everyone knows a bunch of her tunes (whether they like it or not), and her story is compelling. Plus, she’s gloriously weird herself and would be a uniquely charismatic figure for any actress to embody. Now that Bohemian Rhapsody is a major hit (because f*ck everything) and the Elton John biopic Rocketman is around the corner, it seems that Quebec’s songstress is getting her dues.
French studio Gaumont are planning a Celine film, currently titled The Power of Love. French actress and director Valerie Lemercier is set to star and direct. As noted by Variety, the film isn’t exactly a Dion biopic but the promotional materials deliberately conflate Dion with the fictional character of Aline (see what they did there with that name?) The promo kit invites audiences to ‘discover the incredible story of Celine Dion through the tender, funny gaze of Valerie Lemercier, who pays her a vibrant homage.’
In a way, this is kind of genius. It’s more Mamma Mia than Ray, using Dion’s music to tell a story, but it’s clear that the film wants you to be thinking of Aline as Celine. It’s not subtle, after all. It also gives them a free-for-all to change details and be more creative in their narrative. That gets them out of the whole ‘historical accuracy’ thing, at least. It also helps them to avoid ahem… more problematic elements of Dion’s life? Remember, this is the woman who met her husband when she was 12 and he was 38. And he was her manager. And he left his wife and kids for her. And she’s the same age as his oldest kid. And also he may have groomed her. Dion has stridently denied claims she was ever taken advantage of by René Angélil, with whom she had 3 kids, but do you really want to portray that story as the ultimate romance?
The report on the film by The Guardian says that the story will follow Celine/Aline from her childhood onwards, so that’s a question that will have to be answered at some point. That report also quotes Valerie Lemercier as saying, ‘I discovered the strength of their love story and their great humour, and I better understood how the alchemy of their three individual ambitions made an unwanted little girl the greatest star on the planet.’
But really, this film could be morally icky on the same level as Bohemian Rhapsody and it’ll probably still make hundreds of millions of dollars. Dion fans will want an extended Dion karaoke session and a film of any kind will offer that. But will any version of Celine be as amazingly strange and well-dressed as she is? I doubt it.