In the French Style (1963) Poster

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Alternately wispy, melancholy, and powerfully introspective...
moonspinner5511 July 2009
19-year-old American girl from Chicago, studying art in Paris and beginning to show real promise, abandons her talent for an unfulfilled modeling career and a series of romantic misfires; four years later, she's contemplating her future, fed up with the empty decadence, disappointment, and heartache of her life. Irwin Shaw based his screenplay on two of his short stories, and he just about nails the insecure feelings of a directionless young woman desperate to hang on to youth and beauty while seeking loftier paths in the bargain. The film is slowly paced, but it isn't dreary nor insubstantial, and it sneaks up on you. Jean Seberg is tentative in the starring role, but also thoughtful and complicated. It's a 'beautiful people' movie, most likely aimed at upscale feminine audiences of the time, yet it has a lot more resonance (and cool style) than most other "woman's pictures" of the era. *** from ****
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Seberg Gets the Star Treatment
kookoo-419 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Having just read the new Garry McGee biog on Jean Seberg, I've found myself wanting to see all the films I could get my hands on, especially the early ones, which isn't easy considering their relative lack of availability. There is a large gap between 1959's "Breathless" and 1964's "Lilith", a period when Jean made mostly only French films (of which only "Breathless" is available on DVD). One of the only big studio pictures made during this time was "In the French Style," so I was excited when I finally found someone with a copy. I couldn't wait to see it, as I knew it was a vehicle for the star and would therefore feature her with plenty of closeups and opportunities to emote.

I was surprised when I got my copy that this film was in black and white--by 1964 most major films were being produced in color and I just naturally assumed this would be too. I was also surprised that it doesn't look or play like an American movie, no big French Provincial, quintessentially '60's sets, no elaborate costumes even after her character becomes a model, etc. It's a rather grimy and bleak-looking little movie about a young American girl who goes to Paris to learn to paint and gets sucked up into the nightlife and has a number of affairs with businessmen who come and go, leaving her feeling empty by the film's end. But nothing really happens, the events never rise above the level of soap opera--a sleepy one at that--and it's hard to tell at times what the director was trying to get across.

Jean looks beautiful throughout--which for me justified the expense of buying the film, and it wasn't that it was exactly boring. But it lacked a masterly touch. For example, when the character's father comes to visit and expresses disapproval of her painting and lifestyle, asking her to come home, her reaction is so listless it's impossible to tell if her character is supposed to be upset, indifferent, if she even feels close to her father at all. This emotional ambivalence pervades both her character and the film, until the viewer is left starving for a sympathetic character to invest in. With only a few touches where we get to see her character express some passion about something, it could have been so much better. As it is, it's kind of an exasperating film.

Fans of Seberg will still love it however, as she is adorable and at the apex of her youth and beauty.
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French Style, Brooklyn Substance
writers_reign8 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'm indebted to an Internet friend who kindly burned me a copy of a film I've coveted since I saw it first. Often, of course, films we saw several years ago fail to stand up but this is not one of them and as I remembered the second half was laced with vintage Irwin Shaw dialogue that I still remembered verbatim. Next to John O'Hara Shaw wrote the finest American short stories of the twentieth century and here he blends two of them 'A Year To Learn The Language and In The French Style seamlessly into a hugely satisfying whole. I have never been enamoured of either Seberg or Baker yet here they combine to a fare-thee-well. Baker, more a 'presence' than an actor, clearly relished this one time he was provided with great dialogue and extracts the full mileage from Shaw's unmistakable style. Shaw's close friend Bob Parish, who was associated in one way or another - actor, editor, director - with some fairly classy movies yet never really made it, does sterling work behind the camera. One to cherish.
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Looking Beautiful in France
wes-connors13 July 2009
Beautiful young Jean Seberg (as Christina James) leaves Chicago for Paris, to study painting. There, she meets beautiful young student Philippe Forquet (as Guy), who sits for a portrait. After a few months of dating, Mr. Forquet proposes he and Ms. Seberg have sex. Although she loves him, Seberg is reluctant, and wants to concentrate on forwarding her career; she dreams of becoming the next "Renoir, Matisse, (or) Picasso." Seberg and Forquet try to forge a relationship, but he has a secret. Seberg encounters other men with problems, like reporter Stanley Baker (as Walter Beddoes). Or, is Seberg, herself, the problem?

Robert Parrish's "In the French Style" features excellent black-and-white location photography, by Michel Kelber. The performances are wonderful, and Seberg's carries the film, which loses direction after, to quote, "the years pass quickly," in Paris. This film is almost perfectly divided into two separate stories. The first part, with Seberg and Forquet, is the best. The story falls apart after Seberg's character becomes a modern day "Camille" - for too many minutes into the new drama, you're wondering what happened to the endearing (and extremely beautiful looking) young couple you've been following so far…

Forquet makes an additional, brief appearance. His main replacement, Mr. Baker, is given no opportunity to match the romantic build-up of Seberg and Forquet, which hurts the film considerably. After the important, mostly off-screen relationship with Baker gets going, the story switches gears to focus on the arrival of Seberg's father, Addison Powell, in Paris. Father Powell wants Seberg to give up "the life you lead" (meaning men and parties) and return to a more ordinary life in Chicago. Seberg has to make a decision about her future when Baker's (news correspondent) job takes him to the Middle East (a war zone).

Seberg, who ended her life tragically in 1979, should have played "Camille"; she, like the movie, appears so full of potential. Forquet, who really has a handle on his character's age, is exceptional; unfortunately, he began disappearing after "The Young Rebels" (1970). Surprisingly, Powell appeared on TV's "Dark Shadows" (1968); as "Dr. Lang", he temporarily cured Barnabas Collins of vampirism. Fortunately, Baker went directly into lead roles that took better advantage of his worth, like "Zulu" (1964).

******* In the French Style (9/18/63) Robert Parrish ~ Jean Seberg, Philippe Forquet, Addison Powell, Stanley Baker
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An American in Paris in love and in love and in love...
JasparLamarCrabb13 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A slight but entertaining drama starring Jean Seberg as an American art student studying in Paris and finding that love can be a pretty cruel thing. She falls in and out of love over the next four or five years, first with duplicitous Philippe Forquet and then with globe-trotting reporter Stanley Baker. Seberg asserts herself nicely carrying the film, changing appearance from fetching student to principled adult. She's terrific as is Baker, though it's never really clear if he's a cad or if he really cares for Seberg. Irwin Shaw's script is a little too ambiguous for its own good. Directed by Robert Parrish and featuring Addison Powell as Seberg's not so forgiving father. The beautiful, sparingly used score is by Joseph Kosma.
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Intimate and enjoyable portrait of a American woman trying to make a living in Paris
tony_le_stephanois7 May 2015
Usually not my cup of tea, films strictly from female perspective about female lives, but I enjoyed this intimate and modest portrait of a American woman living in France, trying to make a living and to have fun at the same time. While I was happy it was not at all sentimental, I did find the story shallow and conventional, a bit like chick-lit in modern literature (a woman enjoying success and going out with non-existing charismatic and well behaved men).

But the actors were convincing. Seberg of course is perfect for this part, like when she says smiling: 'Trying to impress him with how all-round marvelous I am.' She acts with a powerful glance. Also, she is the queen of beautiful smiles.

I guess Stanley Baker was solid as always, but his part was underdeveloped. Philippe Forquet steals the show, as a kind of creepy boyfriend. But his drama doesn't get exploited as nothing really gets really nasty in this film. Forquet was, because of his looks, a logical counterpart of Seberg. Fun facts: he became specialized in playing French aristocrats in Hollywood films, and was once Sharon Tate's boyfriend.

The relaxed tone of the film is probably its best quality. It is observing rather than trying to share a controversial opinion, like for example a film of Costa-Gavras would. It reminded me a bit of Ma nuit chez Maude, but more old-fashioned. There are also some neat shots of Paris, and a lot of shots from beautiful Jean Seberg. With a lot, I mean A LOT. The superfluous close-ups are hardy countable. But how could I argue with director Robert Parrish? She is downright gorgeous. When you are this pretty, and can act as well, well, why not? I rate it 7/10.
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its ever so French... slow b&w from 60s
ksf-219 October 2009
The film opens with art student Christina (Jean Seberg) walking in Paris, then trying to paint what seems to be a self-portrait, but it's not coming out right. She looks and acts like "Gidget", as she flirts with "Guy"(Phillippe Forquet), who is dashing and opinionated. We watch as the poor-little-rich-girl from Chicago figures out how to survive another six months before the money runs out. There are long periods where we only hear only music, or just silence as she looks at paintings done by others. Guy has some secrets, but we don't find out what they are until about halfway through the story. Then we flash forward to see how everyone is doing now. Directed by Robert Parrish, who had won an Oscar for directing "All the Kings Men". Film moves pretty slowly. The most amusing part of this film is in the credits where we learn that the bistro owner is played by "Moustache". Skip it. Too slow, too serious. Not sure what it wants to be. Will she ever find the perfect man? A more interesting tale is the real life story of Phillippe Forquet - was engaged to Sharon Tate at one point, married Linda Morand.
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