In the late nineteenth century Paris, Briton Charles Swann, a man of wealth and culture, runs among the social set. That life is threatened when he falls in love with Odette de Crécy, a ...
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In the late nineteenth century Paris, Briton Charles Swann, a man of wealth and culture, runs among the social set. That life is threatened when he falls in love with Odette de Crécy, a courtesan, that love all consuming in that he thinks about how he can be with her when they aren't together. He also despises himself for loving her to the extent he does in knowing that if that love is ever destroyed, he won't be able to survive the emotional pain. He is also made quite aware that if he does marry Odette, whose services he pays for while he allows her to continue with her life, he will lose his social position as most will not be able to welcome her into their house. The wealthy Verudins may be the exceptions as they are considered vulgar and gauche despite their wealth, they who have their own choice for Odette, a man named de Forcheville. The other other exception is Charles' old friend, the Baron de Charlus, who introduced the two to each other. The Baron's support for Charles ...Written by
'Swann in Love' did have plenty of things going for it. Really like Marcel Proust's writing, and 'Un Amour de Swann' of the massive 'Remembrance of Things Past' is a masterpiece. Sven Nykvist was, and is still near-universally considered as, one of the all-time greats when it came to cinematography, particularly notable in the films of Ingmar Bergman. Love period dramas and always have. And am a fan of Jeremy Irons, and have liked to loved most of his work even in projects that are beneath him.
After finding and watching it, 'Swann in Love' as has been said already is a brave endeavour in adapting source material that is very difficult to do so, close to unadaptable actually. Proust in general has a sophisticated and subtle style of writing too that is not easy to translate to film or any visual media. 'Swann in Love' doesn't completely succeed and is not the masterpiece level that the book is (that was inevitable though), but there are a lot of good things here, really do applaud it for its noble effort and can really see that a lot of work was put into it.
Will start with what 'Swann in Love' does well. It is a thing of beauty visually. The costumes and settings are as sumptuous as one can get, never looking too fussy, and a lot of homework was clearly done in making the recreation of the period as evocative as possible. Nykvist's cinematography is a wonder, then again with such an amazing and influential cinematographer like Nykvist one doesn't expect any less. To me, the music fitted very well, especially with Swann's travels that are far from settled, and was used in a way that wasn't constant or over-powering. It is also a pleasant score to listen to like the use of strings, even the more atonal (not a fan of this in general but appreciate its musical importance) parts don't jar that much but can understand if anybody doesn't find it to their taste.
There is sophistication and subtlety here (not in Proust's way but in a general one), if not any reminicent parts which wouldn't have worked because they would make the film screech to a halt, and the story absorbs on the whole. The unflinching and claustrophobic portrayal of society and artistocrats is particularly striking, while the aforementioned Swann on the rampage scene, while too long, is a masterly visual and dramatic achievement. The obsessive moments have the right amount of intensity. Irons doesn't give one of his best performances here in a very early film role, but there is authority and conflicted pathos in his Swann which reminds one of the type of characters Irons was best and one of the best at doing it at, upper class characters with a dark or conflicted side. Ornella Muti is quite ravishing and portrays the seductiveness and at times smuttiness of her character expertly. Alain Delon has a lot of fun as the flamboyant artistocrat.
Not without its caveats however, 'Swann in Love' that is. There could have been more depth, it tends to be quite surface-level here, and more passion. A tighter pace, the deliberate nature is taken to extremes here and it can drag, and less scenes that go on for too long would have helped.
It also has some quite distracting and unnecessary over-dubbing, Irons has an amazing and easily recognisable voice that is wasted here.
Overall, not entirely successful but with quite a lot of virtues and a valiant effort. 7/10
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