The Singer (Quand j'étais chanteur) (2006)
"Quand j'étais chanteur" (original title)

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Alain Moreau sings for one of the few remaining dance-bands in Clermont-Ferrand. Though something of an idol amongst his female audience he has a melancholic awareness of the slow ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alain Moreau
Patrick Pineau ...
Jean-Pierre Gos ...
Le maire
Antoine de Prekel ...
Monique Gailleurd ...
Organisateur Soirée
Alain Kruger ...
Patrick Bordier ...
Responsable Palais
Jean-Paul Combes ...
Patron Aquarius
Serge Godenaire ...
Maitre d'hôtel
Catherine Salviat ...
Mme Laville
Cécile Auclert ...


Alain Moreau sings for one of the few remaining dance-bands in Clermont-Ferrand. Though something of an idol amongst his female audience he has a melancholic awareness of the slow disappearance of that audience and of his advancing years. He is completely knocked off balance when he meets strikingly attractive and much younger businesswoman Marion. She seems distant and apparently otherwise involved but soon shows quiet signs of reciprocating his interest. A brief dalliance turns into something much more complicated and he starts to employ - indeed monopolise - her services as an estate agent by announcing he suddenly must move house. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

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Sometimes love can be found in the most unexpected places (DVD Australia)


Drama | Music | Romance


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Release Date:

13 September 2006 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Chanson d'amour  »

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User Reviews

When he was a singer...
9 June 2008 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Xavier Giannoli's Quand J'étais Chanteur aka The Singer isn't a great film, but it is a very good character piece that's lifted to a higher level by Gerard Depardieu in a superb return to form after years of slumming it in well paid but increasingly undemanding production line efforts.

Alain Moreau (Depardieu) is an ageing singer trading on forgotten hits to get gigs on the provincial nightclub circuit - tea dances, openings, office parties, old folks homes or restaurants where the diners don't even notice when he takes a break: he's strictly smalltime and he knows it. Singing songs with lyrics like 'You know those photos of Asia/That I shot on 200 ASA' and practising his pickup technique on bored wives and girlfriends during a break in his act for a tombola, his job is to get them to drink champagne – "They don't care about the songs, so I'm often just singing for myself." That threatens to change when one-night stand Cecile De France's realtor walks out on him and he starts to pursue her, first out of wounded pride but later out of genuine need as he begins to realise what's missing from his life. Not that it's a typical romance – the only way he can get close to her long enough to work his way past her defences is to spend weeks looking at houses he won't buy.

While it sounds like the setup for either a broad comedy or Le Fabuleaux Boulangere Garcon, it's rather more unexpected. De France's character is struggling to get over the collapse of her disastrous marriage and even as affection starts to grow between them, the best that's on offer is a rebound relationship based on the fact that she can't see him a serious longterm proposition. Nor, it's revealed, is it the first time that Depardieu's singer has had such a romantic epiphany, with his ex-wife and manager (Christine Citti) recognising all the signs, resenting the possibility that he wants to give another the kind of family life he denied her. Yet it's not a bitter film, more a wistful one about relations born more of quiet desperation at what's missing rather than real love. It's no accident that he falls for her when his career is increasingly under threat from karaoke, DJs and the realisation that his voice may not hold out much longer.

De France and a largely wasted Mathieu Almaric are excellent, but it's clearly Depardieu's show. It's tempting to see similarities in Depardieu's own career, having gone from working with the best directors in Europe on great films to doing the rounds of cameos in increasingly perfunctory international co-productions, but the real joy here is seeing the star rediscovering his own talent throughout the film with a performance that ranks among his very best. Unlike his character, there's not a trace of vanity in his performance as he happily chats away with De France about highlighting his hair or his tanning regime like a schoolgirl exchanging beauty tips (at one point he even sings about feeling like a girl!), managing a perfect balancing act between the singer's mediocrity and his dignity. It's a fully rounded portrait so beautifully realised that you can even overlook the fact that (perhaps deliberately) he's not much of a singer, though he's at his best in end credits with a truly delightful rendition of the title song (When I Was a Singer) when the character has reconciled himself to his life. It's almost worth the price of admission on its own, but thanks to Depardieu there's much more going for it than that. Well worth a look.

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