For the musical drama Beloved, writer-director Christophe Honoré's melodramatic excesses are tempered by the subtle performances of his leading ladies. Chiara Mastroianni plays Vera, introspective daughter of middle-age sexpot Madeleine (her real-life mother, Catherine Deneuve). Over a span of 40 years we meet the men they love and the men who love them. In early scenes, the youthful romance between hooker Madeleine (Ludivine Sagnier) and the Czech doctor who'll become Vera's father is a colorful but strained imitation of Umbrellas of Cherbourg. More original and profound is a melancholy song in which Vera wishes she had her mother's light heart instead of her own heavy one. Mastroianni and Deneuve trade lines and, with imperfect but sincere singing voices and affectionate glances, propel the lyrics beyond clever wordplay. When the plot gets to be a slog — Honoré shoehorns in tragedies such as September 11 — the sweetness of that familial bond helps you hang in there.