The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.A young woman separated from her lover by war faces a life-altering decision.
The plot focuses on teen-aged star-crossed lovers Genevieve and Guy, who develop a relationship through clandestine meetings despite the disapproval of Genevieve's mother, who thinks a gas station mechanic is beneath her daughter. The lovers eventually consummate their relationship once Guy finds he has been drafted to serve for France during the Algerian conflict. With Guy away, Genevieve discovers she is pregnant and must decide whether to wait for Guy's uncertain return or marry the rich diamond dealer, Roland Cassard, her mother's preference given the failing business of her umbrella shop. The story develops in subtle strokes almost like a Yasujiro Ozu film in that there aren't really any melodramatic confrontation scenes but instead moments of revelation. The wondrous Catherine Deneuve, all of twenty, had her first important role as Genevieve, and it's no wonder her career seems assured from her ethereal performance. With his earthy good looks and open-hearted manner, Nino Castelnuovo complements Deneuve as Guy, and their romance is palpable even in an amusingly contrived shot where they are obviously on a conveyor belt moving down the street. Anne Vernon lends a robust presence as Genevieve's mother as she plots her daughter's fate, and Marc Michel is appropriately bland as Roland.
Along with the vibrant colors faithfully recaptured in a 1996 restoration, such artifices really add to the film's charm. However, just as essential is Michel Legrand's score with his swooning romanticism at its most cinematic (and a precursor to the music he composed for Barbra Streisand's 1983 "Yentl"), as it fills the dramatic arcs from start to finish. You will likely recognize the lounge standard melodies for the Americanized translations, "I Will Wait for You" and "Watch What Happens", as they are pervasive through the recitatives. I enjoyed the movie very much but realize this will not be everyone's cup of tea, especially those already alienated by the musical genre. One can see this as an even more exaggerated form, but you can probably tell by the first two minutes whether you will be enraptured by it. The DVD also includes an excerpt from Demy's widow Agnes Varda's illuminating 1995 documentary, "The World of Jacques Demy".
- Dec 12, 2005