If It Were Love (Si c’était de l’amour)
Director Patric Chiha’s first documentary since the release of Brothers of the Night in 2016, If It Were Love exhibits the compelling work of choreographer Gisele Vienne and French dance company Crowd, exploring both the professional and personal lives of the cast as they rehearse for their latest production, set at a 90s rave. Each character has their own backstory within the stage show, and it is up to the dancers to manifest this personality with the guidance of colleagues and Vienne. However, it becomes clear that their craft is far more taxing and demanding than some may think, and the documentary pulls back the curtain to reveal a greater complexity within the artiste’s psyche.
Exploring how the relationships and range of emotions that performers experience in their roles can affect their feelings and mindsets in real life, this striking film is presented in a meta format as the ensemble explain how the line between fiction and reality becomes blurred due to the intensity of their work. It’s both an exciting display of talent and an engaging psychological investigation, opening the audience’s eyes to the internal process of a dance company when normally we can only witness the external precision of the final performance.
Delivering sexually-charged choreography that revolves around tireless repetition and slow motion as a deep techno soundscape rings out around the stage, the production itself is exemplary, without a doubt a feast to indulge in from the front row of the theatre. So the documentary raises an interesting question: why have the company and Chiha decided to present it this way?
It could be argued that the purpose is to convey the extent of the dancers’ dedication to their craft, depicting the wonderful familial relationships that blossom between all those collaborating on such an intricate exposition. More likely, however, it serves a different purpose: to display the small chinks that form in a performer’s armour as their restless work distorts their reality, resulting in a study of people that has never been so honest and true.
Trust plays a huge part in this piece and is a running theme throughout both the film and the company itself. There is no questioning the ability of every member of the troupe as the opening minutes of the documentary effortlessly illustrates, but what becomes ever more enticing is the contrast between the rave onstage and the raucous effect such strenuous work can have on their emotions. If It Were Love won the Best Documentary from the Teddy Award program for LGBTQ-themed film at Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, and with a commitment to the craft that matches that of Vienne’s Crowd, it is easy to see why.
If It Were Love (Si c’était de l’amour) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for If It Were Love (Si c’était de l’amour) here: