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In this adaptation of Françoise Sagan's best selling novel, Paula is a beautiful and highly successful 40-year-old businesswoman. She is deeply in love with Roger, her mature consort of five years. Roger is a very charming gallant who loves Paula but is too selfish to give up his freedom to be promiscuous. When Paula meets Phillip, the 24-year-old immature lawyer son of one of her rich clients, he falls hopelessly in love with the glamorous, sympathetic older woman and insists that the age difference will be no barrier to a romance. Paula resists the young man's persistent advances, but she finally succumbs when Roger initiates yet another affair with one of his young Maisies. An affair begins, and society does not approve. Written by
Mike Rogers <MICHAELPEM@aol.com>
Imperfect Relationships Explored with Gallic Ruefulness But Hamstrung by Perkins
It amazes me to find out that Anthony Perkins won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor award for his skittish, petulant performance as Philip, the aimless, lovestruck "younger man" in this 1961 Paris-set soap opera about a May-September romance with Paula, a successful, fortyish interior decorator ensnared in a going-nowhere relationship with Roget, an age-appropriate transportation businessman who has casual affairs with young women he dubs impersonally as "Maisie". Naturally, Roget takes Paula for granted, which leaves her vulnerable to Philip's flirtatious advances. However, Perkins is an actor intractably tethered to his definitive role as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho", and unfortunately in his first follow-up film, he emits such a creepy, obsessive tone that makes you fear more for Paula's life than her heart.
On the upside is Ingrid Bergman's textured performance as Paula, and her mature beauty seems to reflect perfectly her saturnine situation. She is believably matched with Yves Montand as Roget in a performance that seems to echo his real-life situation with wife Simone Signoret when he embarked on a well-publicized affair with Marilyn Monroe the year before. Jesse Royce Landis shows up in her typical role as a pompous society matron, this time Philip's cheapskate mother, while Diahann Carroll shows up in a disposable cameo as a world-weary jazz chanteuse. Director Anatole Litvak paces the film a bit too leisurely and adds some silly but amusing touches like Paula's delusion of rain as she drives during a crying jag, but he creatively uses a circular structure to his plot by beginning and ending the film with almost the same scene. Adapting Francoise Sagan's "Aimez-vous Brahms?", screenwriter Samuel Taylor lends the sort of wry observations he contributed to his scripts for "Sabrina" and "Vertigo". As of March 2008, this film is not available on DVD.
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