Céline Dion Movie 'Aline' Examines Her Relationship With René Angélil — And How They Met When She Was 12

Photo: Joerg Carstensen/EPA/Shutterstock
Celine Dion And Rene Angelil

"Aline," an unofficial biopic "inspired by" Céline Dion’s life, is making its way to the Cannes Film Festival to feature in the out-of-competition lineup.

The movie's soundtrack features some of Dion’s most famous hits, along with a plot that’s curiously similar to the story of the French-Canadian singer’s real life, but the name of the film's protagonist has been changed to “Aline Dieu” (or “Aline God” if you haven’t brushed up on your French recently).

The complicated legalities involved in gaining the rights to life stories are presumably more difficult than those involved in gaining the rights to someone’s music, as Dion’s alter ego is able to freely sing along to hits such as “I’m Alive” and “Let’s Talk About Love” over the course of the flick.

Perhaps one reason the team responsible for “Aline” wasn't granted Dion’s seal of approval to call her by her name may lie in the way the movie approaches the singer’s relationship with late husband and former manager René Angélil.

Dion and Angeli’s relationship has been heralded as one of the more devoted and lasting love stories of celebrity couples but the movie puts a slightly different spin on their long romance and large age-gap.

What was the age difference between Céline Dion and René Angélil — and how old was she when they met?

There was a 26-year age difference between Dion and Angélil, who met when she was 12 and he was 38.

The two met in 1980, after Dion’s brother sent Angélil a demo of her singing.

By 1981, Angélil had mortgaged his house to fund Dion’s first album and take the teen, accompanied by her mother, on a tour of Japan, Canada and Europe.

The trailer for “Aline” frames the dynamic between the two as a partnership in which Angélil authors Dion’s dreams, then sends her out to realize them.

He calls himself her “old billy goat,” pushes her mother to let the young star go out into the world alone and urges Dion to enhance her looks while she is still a teenager.

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Though it’s possible the writers of the film have been liberal with the truth, the imbalanced power dynamic between the child star and the man who launched her career seems more obvious now than ever before.

Dion has said she used to sleep with a photo of Angélil when she was a teenager.

As the movie shows, Dion began developing feelings for Angélil in her teen years.

In her 2000 autobiography "My Story, My Dream," she recalled keeping a photo of him under her bed when slept.

"Before I fell asleep, I slipped it under the pillow, out of fear that my mother, who always shared a room with me, would find it," Dion wrote. "Less and less could I hide from myself the fact that I was in love with Rene; I had all the symptoms ... I was in love with a man I couldn't love, who didn't want me to love him, who didn't want to love me."

By this time Angélil was a twice-divorced father of three and Dion was around 17 or 18 years old.

Dion and Angélil officially started dating when she turned 20.

The couple has always maintained that nothing romantic happened between them until Dion was safely above the legal age of consent.

Dion revealed that the pair shared their first kiss outside her hotel room after she had won the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin.

She has also stated that Angélil was the only man she had ever kissed.

The couple kept their relationship a secret for five years, with Angélil admitting he was fearful about what people would think before Dion eventually revealed their relationship to the public in the liner notes of her 1993 album "The Colour of My Love."

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Dion’s mother didn’t approve of their marriage.

One thing the “Aline” creators seem to have gotten right is Dion’s mother’s perspective on her daughter’s questionable relationship.

In the film’s trailer, Aline’s mother is seen berating the talent manager for pursuing her daughter.

Dion herself confirmed this dynamic existed with her own family in the past.

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"It was very difficult for her," Dion said in 2016. "When I told her I had some really strong feelings for René, she tried everything to kill him and make me snap out of it. I was very frustrated and mad at first but she tried to make me understand that this man tried marriage twice before, he has three children, he's not responsible.”

The movie even directly quotes what Dion says her mother told her about wanting a “Prince Charming.”

Regardless, Dion went on to marry Angélil in 1994, and the two remained together 22 years, until his death in 2016.

They had three children together, René-Charles, now 20, and twins Eddy and Nelson, who will be 11 in October.

The director of “Aline” has addressed Dion and Angélil’s relationship.

The movie, albeit in a somewhat corny way, certainly probes some of the lesser-known facts about Dion’s relationship, when it began, and how appropriate it was.

But the film’s director, Valérie Lemercier, who also plays the title role of Aline, says even her opinion of Angélil changed while working on the development of the script.

“We made fun of the Céline Dion-René Angélil couple a lot, especially on their age difference, some saying Celine was just an object for him," she said.

"But of course, it was much more complicated than that. When I wrote the film, I too fell in love with Rene.”

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.