The Names of Love Le nom des gens


Credits non contractual

  • Awards:

    • She's a free spirit, he's pretty uptight. When they fall in love, sparks fly... A feel-good and intelligent contemporary satire.
  • Details:

    • 102 min - 'Comedy drama' - 'Romance' - French
      - 2010
    • Color - 1.85 - Dolby SR SRD - HD masters available
  • Directed by:

    • Michel Leclerc
  • Cast:

    • Jacques Gamblin (The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, L'Enfer, Holy Lola, Safe Conduct – Best actor at the Berlin Film Festival 2003)
    • Sara Forestier (Gainsbourg: Je t’aime… Moi Non Plus, Wild Grass, How Much Do You Love Me?, Games of Love and Chance – Best promising actress at the Cesar Awards 2005)
  • Produced by:

    • Karé Productions and Delante Films
  • Delivery:

    • Completed
  • Medias:

  • Photos

    Photos: - 2009 - Vincent Mathias / Delante Films / Karé Productions - 2009 - Michaël Crotto / Delante Films / Karé Productions

  • Synopsis

    Her father is from Algeria; his mother is a Jew. She's a free spirit, he's a complete square. She's provocative, he is discreet. She's shameless, he carries several generations' worth of guilt on his shoulders. She doesn’t hesitate to use sex to turn conservatives into liberals; he is a one woman man. Bahia Benmahmoud and Arthur Martin are as different as two people can be.
    So when they fall in love, sparks fly…

  • Leading cast



    2008 Le premier jour du reste de ta vie / The First Day of the Rest of Your Life by Rémi Besançon
    Nominated to the Best Actor Award – Cesar Awards

    2006 Les brigades du tigre / Tiger Brigades by Jérôme Cornuau

    2005 L’enfer by Danis Tanovic

    2004 Holy Lola by Bertrand Tavernier

    2002 Laissez-passer / Safe Conduct by Bertrand Tavernier
    Best actor at the Berlin Film Festival 2003


    2010 Gainsbourg
    (Vie héroïque) / Gainsbourg: Je t’aime… Moi Non Plus by Joann Sfar

    2009 Les herbes folles / Wild Grass by Alain Resnais

    2005 Combien tu m’aimes / How Much Do You Love Me? by Bertrand Blier

    2003 L’esquive / Games of Love and Chance by Abdel Kechiche
    Best promising actress at the Cesar Awards 2005)
  • Crew

    A film by
    Michel Leclerc

    Nathalie Hubert
    (Would I Lie to You?, Van Gogh)

    French distributor
    UGC Distribution
  • Director’s notes


    The Names of Love is a comedy, like your first film, J'invente rien. Why did you choose comedy?
    Michel Leclerc: When you talk about yourself, or at least when you want to use autobiographical material, humor allows you to step back enough to avoid falling into narcissistic indulgence. To talk about yourself, for sure, but make fun of yourself at the same time so others can get into the story. That is the main reason why I do comedies: it seems to me like the only classy way to talk about personal matters without becoming self-absorbed...

    Who are your influences?
    MC: In a recent interview, Woody Allen lamented the fact that young filmmakers are more inspired by Scorsese and Tarantino than by him. Yet for years I’ve been trying desperately to be inspired by him – especially by Annie Hall and Radio Days for The Names of Love – but no one notices. My ultimate goal would be to copy all his films one by one, but I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to do that. I secretly hope he’ll end up suing me for plagiarism, which might give me a chance to actually meet him!

    How did the adventure of The Names of Love begin?
    MC: When I met Baya almost ten years ago, she told me her name and I answered, “Is that Brazilian?” and she answered, “No, it’s Algerian.” After that she asked me my name and when I told her she said, “At least you can tell where that’s from!” So the starting point of the film also coincides with the starting point of our personal relationship.
    Baya Kasmi: We wanted to respond to that whole deterministic line of reasoning about identity and communities, which we can’t stand and don’t identify with.
    MC: In France, the question of origin is complicated and obsessional. How do you stay faithful to your roots without subscribing to the community mentality? How can you be an atheist without rejecting your origins? We are fascinated by these questions.

    So it is highly autobiographical?
    MC: Yes, because it was in telling each other stories about our families that, despite our differences, we recognized similarities when it came to certain neuroses and obsessions of our parents. Basically, love relationships depend a lot more on that common family ground than on a supposed sense of belonging to a community.

    Arthur Martin defines himself as “better than everyone else, but not the pick of the market.”
    ML: I really love characters who are a little too rigorous to be likeable, whose inflexibility ends up making them asocial. Arthur Martin is one of those men who have a certain moral righteousness – rigidity, even – which keeps them from making concessions. We liked the idea of having a very serious character with no sense of humor in a comedy.

    How did you get the idea of making Arthur an ornithologist who works for the French Bureau of Animal Disease?
    ML: For Arthur, we looked for a profession that would reflect his obsessional nature. The principle of taking precautions to minimize all possible risk corresponds to his personal philosophy of life – to the point that he’s made a career of it.
    BK: When we researched that profession, we realized there could be many echoes with his personality type. For example, we found out that in case of the risk of bird flu, his job is to give orders for the mass slaughter of chickens, which have to be gassed first. There was obviously an echo there with Arthur’s problems and preoccupations.

    Baya embodies total commitment.
    ML: Baya is a courageous character. She believes that it’s always better to take action – even bad – than to do nothing at all. She is an activist who thinks her actions can change the world. But what makes her special is that she makes no distinction between her political commitment and personal commitment, since she sleeps with her political enemies! She is a character with a mind of her own.
    BK: So she is also the kind of person who simplifies things out of necessity. The world today is so complex that to be committed, you have to have a clear approach and stick to it. That’s what makes her say ridiculous things sometimes, like, "quads are totally fascist, leftists are okay and right-wingers are all fascists,” without ever being never ashamed of it! It may seem juvenile, but for her it’s a conscious choice: she makes herself follow that line of thinking to not lose energy in action. It’s a challenge.

    How did you choose Jacques Gamblin?
    ML: We thought of him right away. I thought he was right for the part because he is a remarkable example of that self-controlled, closed type who still exudes a compressed sort of humanity. He also has a body that can offer very strong comic potential, which hasn’t been exploited very much up until now.

    And Sara Forestier?
    ML: We wrote the part of Baya like a kind of Arab Marilyn. So at first we were looking for an actress of Arabic descent. But we couldn’t find anyone who expressed all the different aspects of her character: funny, vivacious, spontaneous and uninhibited. So we opened up the casting call to non-Arabic actresses. When we met Sara Forestier, even though she didn’t correspond to the character as we had imagined her, we immediately knew she was it. Because she has that fun and boisterous witty side we imagined, without being vulgar. From there, we rewrote the part for Sara, giving her that opportunistic side we spoke of earlier.
    BK: Thanks to Sara, without even trying we came back to the complexity of a character who suffers from not looking Arabic, though her father is from Algeria. Which is more like me.

    The actors are astonishingly natural...
    ML: I tremendously enjoyed directing the actors because I felt like they were very involved in the film. So they were open to improvisation. For me, it’s fundamental to keep a space open for freedom when it comes to a highly written script. For example, I used the activist side of Carole Franck, who plays Baya’s mother: in the scenes where she gets mad about nuclear power and where she insists that Arthur agree to a marriage of convenience, she was improvising.

    What were your objectives as a director?
    ML: I wanted to play with contrast between some of the serious themes – politics and childhood trauma – and the glamorous style of the cinematography. For example, when Arthur and Baya are walking through fallen leaves after their marriage of convenience, they debate about the duty of memory and the Algerian War. I found it amusing to play with the counterpoint between a wide shot typical of romantic comedies – wedding dress, bottle of champagne in hand – and the subject of conversation.
    On the other hand, I wanted to avoid over-editing and systematically cutting to close-ups, typical of your standard comedy. I preferred shooting wide shots to frame the characters’ bodies and not over-lighting the scenes, even if that meant losing certain comic effects.

    The scene where Arthur puts Baya’s clothes back on is very poetic.
    ML: For Baya, nudity is totally unimportant: she acts the same way naked as she does in clothes – she doesn’t make it sexual. Because of that, we had to make her nudity ordinary and make putting her clothes back on sexy. It was a real challenge to direct.

    Michel Leclerc and Baya Kasmi

  • Press

    "A film of rare intelligence."
    "The most heartily recommended film of the end of the year."

    "The wildest and most original comedy of the fall"

    "A real pearl"

    "Run out to see THE NAMES OF LOVE!"

    "A film with offbeat, excessive, funny and touching characters."

    "A powerful comedy"
    "The best burst of delirium in French cinema in a long time"
    "An original and delightful feature film"
    24 HEURES

    "A great breath of freedom”

    "Clever, audacious, exhilarating."

    "Moving, committed, hilarious"


    "A very funny and very incisive film."
    "Lively and light."
    "Nanni Moretti just found his French cousin."

    "An oddball, pithy political romcom, The Names of Love has vigour, intelligence to spare, and a winning - if unlikely - romantic duo at its lead."
    "... it provides its share of spiky laughs and is certainly hard to dislike."

    "A biting comedy on identity that votes in favor of the right to laugh."
    "Explosively funny"

    "Heartily recommended"
    "A nugget of gold"

    "A hilarious comedy"

    "An atypical, offbeat comedy, full of humor and inspired moments."

    "A delectable offbeat comedy"

    "An offbeat, funny and daring comedy"

    “A comedy at the Cannes Film Festival! An event rare enough to be pointed out.”
    “Truly exhilarating”
    “Keep the seemingly simple title in mind; the directing and writing are loaded with surprises, big laughs, moments of sheer madness and tenderness.”
    “The film is as hilariously funny as it is intelligent.”
    “Brilliant little film”

    "feel-good, intelligent comedy"
    "aesthetically captivating and carried by the pace of the narrative and quality performances by its lead actors: Sara Forestier and Jacques Gamblin."
    "a highly entertaining film which doesn’t lack sensitivity."

    "A hilarious, insolent comedy, light yet profound.
    Could you dream up a more beautiful film to open the festival? ...the most exciting film that's been shown since the festival began.
    Emotions often flood in with the laughs.
    Not a single second needs to be cut from this dynamic film, carried by witty, ultra-sharp dialogue.
    How about the actors? Jacques Gamblin is perfect as usual. Sara Forestier is spectacular..."

    "An offbeat comedy with a great story."

    "A contempo satire."

    "A film that will make you feel good"

    "A wild and hilarious comedy"
    TELE Z

    "Not to miss"

  • Awards

    Cesar Awards 2011 - 2 awards and 4 nominations
    Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay

    Cannes Film Festival 2010
    Semaine de la Critique

    Trophées du Film Français 2011 - Discovery duo - Michel Leclerc-Antoine Rein, Fabrice Goldstein
    (Karé), Caroline Adrian (Delante)

    Angoulême French-speaking Film Festival 2010
    Best director and Public Prize

    Cabourg Film Festival 2010
    Public Prize

    Festival des Avant-Premières
    Best Film and Best Actress