A musical drawing room farce set in Paris in October, 1925. Gilberte, in middle-age, flirts with men but loves her husband Georges, wishing he were more demonstrative. He's negotiating a deal with an American, Eric Thomson, who turns out to be Gilberte's first husband from an annulled and secret stateside marriage. Along with her sister Arlette, Gilberte begs Eric not to tell Georges about the marriage. Meanwhile, a young artist, Charly, pursues Gilberte while Arlette tries to match him with the young Huguette, who loves him. Will Eric play along or try to re-win Gilberte's affection? Can Gilberte play one off against another? And who will manage to kiss whom on the lips?Written by
The first 60 seconds are wonderful. The rest is blah
Resnais, wow! The genius who brought us Hiroshima Mon Amour takes on the challenge of making a 1930s French musical in vibrant colour. The opening voice-over with old, embellished inter-titles was a nice touch. Then the camera aperture opens (like the old hand crankers) on a black & white placard. The camera backs off (or rather, up), suddenly showing us the surprisingly brilliant colours of an elegant table set for a tea party. This is all in the first 60 seconds.
Then the music starts. A rather banal and forgettable diddy featuring an unconvincing chorus of 3 girls blabbering some nonsense which has no relevance to the film (and yes, I speak French, so I can't blame it on the subtitles). Those characters whiz out the door and are replaced by more people who break into an even more forgettable song. Then they leave, and finally Audrey Tautou appears and we hear our first appreciable dialogue 15 minutes into the film.
I'm not sure what Resnais intended by starting off with such a yawning waste of time & musical cacophony. But the effect on the viewer is to make you want to hurl skittles at the screen and storm out. I endured.
It didn't get much better. I'll tell you why. There is absolutely no familiarity with any of the characters. We don't even see their faces half the time (as Resnais seems too intent on showing off the expensive scenery to care about the actual people in front of the camera). People flit on & off stage like moths around a lamp, and we the audience are unable to focus on any particular person or plot. It's as if you were to take every episode of the Brady Bunch and cram it into a 2 hour movie. With bad songs.
The only thing that kept me watching as long as I did (1 hour) was that I was looking at the camera techniques, lighting and scenery which were all, I admit, excellent. But is that enough to hold your attention for 2 hours? Not me. Maybe tomorrow I'll try watching the end. Aw, who am I kidding. I have more important things to do. I'm sure you do, too. Skip this.
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