It is unfair to do a criticism of Christophe Honoré’s Les chansons d’amour [Love Songs, 2007] via a comparison with Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg [The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964] solely because both are love stories set to songs, with characters suddenly breaking into love-soaked melodies. Yes, they’re both musicals. French musicals. Demy’s beloved film has already become an icon for romantic cinephiles, and while we can probably say that Honoré pays homage to that film with his, Love Songs has its own gravity that is totally different from the older film. It’s rougher, for instance, and a little drab from its washed out winter light — certainly a far cry from the technicolor madness of Umbrellas. And Love Songs is about the fluidity of loving: boy loves girl, girl dies in the first thirty minutes of film, boy finds love with another boy, plus all its attendant complications with other people. The thing about musicals is that the body of songs ultimately take away precious minutes that would have been used for clarifying expositions in an ordinary movie — and so we are left for the most part to surmise the emotional turns of the story via song lyrics and whatever non-sung segments there are that constitute drama. And so we try. Love Songs is not entirely a successful film, but in places, it has its charms, aided for the most part by the engrossing, bewitchingly watchable Louis Garrel, whose brave turns in French films in the past few years have been wrenching and, well, lust-inducing. But the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman once said that cinema is all about the human face. We look at Garrel, and we know very very well what Bergman is talking about.