Cobos Films Bv
Bertrand Beyern at the cemetery of Pere-Lachaise in France in the documentary "Forever."
FOREVER — *** — Documentary feature about the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery; with English subtitles (European dialects); not rated, probable PG (nude artwork)

To be honest, a 90-minute documentary about a cemetery sounds — at least on paper — about as exciting as spending 90 minutes in a cemetery.

But surprisingly, "Forever" turns out to be a much-better film than that would suggest.

Director Heddy Honigmann and cinematographer Robert Alazraki spend much of the 90 minutes capturing the architecture and "personality" of said cemetery, which turns out to be Pere-Lachaise in France.

For those who don't know, the cemetery is the final resting place of such luminaries as Doors frontman Jim Morrison, composer Frederic Chopin, cinematic trickster Georges Melies, actress Simone Signoret, author and critic Marcel Proust, and many, many others.

Award-winning Dutch documentarian Honigmann also finds some interesting and more "lively" stories when she follows some of those who visit the cemetery for solace or inspiration.

They include Yoshino Kimura, a pianist who's practicing for a recital in which she'll perform one of Chopin's compositions. (It's also a tribute to her late father.)

And as art aficionado Valerie Bajou notes, her own deceased father may not be as famous as some of the other, aforementioned cemetery inhabitants. But the film observes that there's a shoe museum with a wing partly devoted to the Armenian designer.

Perhaps the most fascinating commentary comes from taxi driver Reza Khoddam, a fan of Iranian writer Sadegh Khaddayat, and David Pouly, an embalmer who takes his "artistic" inspiration from the painter Amedeo Modigliani.

Refreshingly, the tone of the documentary is not as mournful and as somber as you'd expect it to be.

In fact, at times it's even a little goofy and celebratory. One scene shows two blind chums watching — well listening to, at least — the classic 1955 thriller "Les Diaboliques" and excitedly appraising Signoret's performance.

"Forever" is not rated but would probably receive a PG. It features glimpses of nude artwork (statues and paintings), brief drug references and some brief film violence (slapping). Running time: 95 minutes.

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