By the time I reached my teens (in early 1970's) a middle-aged gentleman from the neighbourhood has already accrued a good collection of Dalida's records, and that's how I was introduced to her singing, and remained her fan ever since, for four and half decades already. Contributive to that is the circumstance that last ten years I've been living and working in Lebanon, with Dalida's strong presence in its musical scene, and with her faithful audience, very much alive even three decades after her untimely demise.
That's why I have been very enthusiastic to see the movie based on her life, but also a bit concerned about it. Now that the movie is out and I have seen it, I'm very pleased to say that it has met my expectations to the greatest extent.
A number of elements are greatly contributing to the solid success and good quality of the French produced biopic, simply titled "Dalida" (2016). Based on my earlier findings and details known, story follows Dalida's life meticulously and faithfully, life filled with professional successes and personal torments and unhappiness. Actors have done an extraordinary job, which is especially important in the case of the leading actress, Sveva Alviti, who has brought to screen the title character--portrayed at the right measure, faithfully, decently and respectfully--but also actors impersonating key players in Dalida's life, her brothers (the younger one, Bruno-Orlando, plausibly depicted by Riccardo Scamarcio, performing as her career manager since 1966) as well as her professional companions, and partners in her private life. Finally, identification achieved thanks to the fascinating physical resemblance of the leading actress, as well as her successfully accomplished impression of Dalida's on-stage (and otherwise) presence and mannerisms, is certainly not disadvantageous.
According to her biographers, Dalida performed and recorded in more than ten different languages, while being fluent in at least half of that number. However, due to the fact that her career has shot to stardom in France, and her success has been most persistently maintained across the French-speaking music scene, lyrics of her songs are mainly in French. Therefore, to me, a non-French speaker, her songs were appealing primarily because of the power of her performance, ranging between its modest intimacy and dramatic intensity. Henceforth, only after watching this movie subtitled in English I have realized how much lyrics used in her songs were matching the on-goings in her own life. As if song makers and lyricist were retelling her life in real time. Having her screenplay based on the book written by Dalida's already mentioned brother Orlando, and thanks to proper choice of such songs with real life-relating lyrics, and their excellent timing, screenplay writer and director, Ms. Lisa Azuelos, has offered to the viewers most dramatic and suggestive revelations, easily implying such exciting, and--within the context of Dalida's private life troubled by failed relationships and personal difficulties, mishaps and tragedies--often touching connections between the songs and reality.
Though shot as biography feature film (biopic), meant primarily to entertain, then to inform, by appearing so well connected to reality, true to the facts, naturally gaining from the circumstance that the main actress is almost a dead ringer for Dalida, further inspired by clearly Dalida's own voice performing all included songs, it almost feels like watching a biography documentary.
To Dalida's faithful long-time followers, this is a great chance to reconfirm their fandom, to all others--including a co-spectator at the movie screening I attended, my wife Minnie--an excellent opportunity to get acquainted to this most gifted, duly celebrated singer, whose life was tragically cut short, but whose legacy, primarily her songs (but also, her high ranking as a personality, e.g. personality who had the greatest impact on French society), still lives and remains for posterity, as a pleasant reminder of her impressive and memorable talents.