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In the Paris of the late 19th century, Louise, wife of a general, sells the earrings her husband gave her as a wedding gift: she needs money to cover her debts. The general secretly buys the earrings again and gives them to his mistress, Lola, leaving to go to Constantinople. Where an Italian diplomat, Baron Donati, buys them. Back to Paris, Donati meets Louise... So now Louise discovers love and becomes much less frivolous. Written by
I tried to watch this movie on VHS years ago, but found it too boring to get through. I decided to give it another chance in a real theater, because I'd heard that it's such a classic. It definitely improved on the big screen (well, not that big), but the good things about the movie are undercut by the unsatisfactory story. The film starts out like a biting social comedy, on the order of "La Ronde", but strangely changes tone partway through, turning much darker. But because of the light opening, the characters are not three-dimensional enough to support a serious story. The actors, especially Darrieux, are good enough that they almost make it work, but they needed a better script. The abrupt, unexplained ending was especially frustrating to me.
The film is beautifully shot, but the camera-work was a little too hyper for me in places--a dance sequence made me literally dizzy. (Probably most people wouldn't have a problem with that.) Also, the rich, somewhat claustrophobic production design showed a few too many 1950's influences for my taste.
On the positive side, I admired the way Ophuls created (on the surface) a believable world of the rich, and yet had an awareness of the poorer people that surrounded it. That was something I did not expect.
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