Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

How does one describe Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg? It's more than a simple musical, much more than that. (It is Demy after all.) But it's more than the typical fare the likes of MGM churned out at the time. But how?

The film follows the young love between Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve) and Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), stalled because of him being drafted. He leaves her alone and pregnant, yearning for him to return to her. But will this long-distance relationship survive?

Being the second of a sort of trilogy (the other films being Lola and The Young Girls of Rochefort), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg establishes Demy's standing in the world of film. In contrast to the films made by his wife Agnès Varda, his works more often than not are romanticized visions of reality. (Compare Lola with Cléo from 5 to 7.)

In a way, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a low-scale opera. (All of the dialogue is sung.) There's that tone -- pardon the pun -- of melodrama throughout, yes, but that's the point. It's supposed to be morose amid the various pastels. (What, you never heard of the concept of dissonance?)

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg shows how one's aspirations and dreams don't often come to fruition. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for your life to move forward, even if you don't want to. But as time wears on, you'll realize you've made a wise decision. (No one ever said or expected life to be fair to them from beginning to end.)

My Rating: ****1/2

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