Thursday, January 8, 2015
372. LOLA (1961)
Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By: Jacques Demy
Written By: Jacques Demy
Main Cast: Anouk Aimee, Marc Michel, Jacques Harden, Alan Scott, Elina Labourdette
Click here to view the trailer
A DOUBLE SHOT OF DEMY: 1 of 2
It seems that I probably should've watched these Demy, BOOK movies in chronological order, as most reviewers will tell you that they sort of intertwine and that both The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort draw, at least a little bit, from Lola. Well, I've already done "Cherbourg" and I'll be reviewing "Rochefort" next, so hopefully it won't make that much of a difference. Anyway, this installment of Demy's tale - his first feature - was pretty good!
The whole movie is one big love pentagon (or maybe even hexagon), intertwining different broken hearts and found romances. The film begins with a blonde man, arriving into the French town of Nantes, driving a white Cadillac. He nearly runs down a platoon of American sailors, who are having a short stay over in Nantes, before moving onto Cherbourg, then home. One of the sailors is Frankie (Scott), a Chicagoan who speaks French quite fluently, has a fiance back home and a mistress in Nantes. The mistress? None other than the title's Lola (Aimee), a single mother and cabaret dancer waiting for the father of her son and AWOL lover to return to her, knowing someday he will. Turns out the lover in question - Michael - didn't think he could properly provide for a family, so he went on the lam until such time that he was able to do so. Meanwhile, there's Roland Cassard, a romantic and a depressive, who's just lost his job. Luckily it only takes him about thirty minutes of screen time to find a new one - delivering a mysterious, leather briefcase to Johannesburg and then bringing a second one back to Nantes. While perusing a bookstore (Roland - an avid reader), Cassard meets Cecile, a teenage girl and her mother. Cecile is looking for a French to English dictionary and while the bookstore doesn't have one, Roland offers up his personal copy, which he offers to drop off. Cecile's mother takes the opportunity to gussy herself up, as gentleman callers have become less frequent since Cecile's father is out of the picture.
Were there supposed to be connections made between Lola (whose real name is Cecile) and young Cecile here? I didn't pick up on any, but oversaw a post mentioning it. I didn't read it, but instead decided to come here and ask the rhetorical question. I honestly can't think of any that would be that relevant, but perhaps it's all going over my head. In fact, I didn't really watch Lola as a film that was filled with underlying ideas and hidden meanings, instead simply viewing it as a story of love and love lost, beautifully shot in a breath taking black & white. Plus the whole thing is a big downer and I'm a sucker for sad stories. Sure, things end up well for Lola, whose long lost Michael finally returns, but did anyone else's heart break for Roland, whom we last see frantically walking along the road, probably on his way back to Lola's, unknowingly passing the white Caddy as he marches? That shot of him from Lola's point of view, as he walked rapidly got to me for some reason - a man letdown, a man broken, nothing else to live for. On the other hand, there's Frankie, a man who didn't seem to have any use for Lola other than a good time and a bragging story for his sailor buddies. A man who was already engaged back home and whose long term future with Lola was nonexistent, seeing as how he was leaving soon. I was definitely a Roland supporter here and viewed Frankie only as "in the way". Also, poor Cecile's mother (can't recall her name), who tries so hard to look good for Roland, who pays her almost no attention. Perhaps we're to view it as love being in Roland's lap, yet him being blind to it, because of his feelings for Lola.
Anyway, what a great, dialogue driven film that really pleased me as a moviegoer and one that was really tired and going in, would've preferred his bed to motion pictures. I have to hand it to Lola for pulling me out of my exhaustion, reviving me and giving me a fine movie to chew on. What a beautiful movie too, not just the cinematography, but also the actors - all good looking chaps and ladies, especially Anouk Aimee who is breath taking and opposed to Leslie Caron, deserves to have multiple men vying for her heart (see An American in Paris review). Another thing I got to thinking about - I really think I short changed The Umbrellas of Cherbourg! I vividly remembered that movie as I was watching this and even going back to check out the review, I was reminded of the colors, again eye popping cinematography on display from Demy and crew. I'd call Umbrellas at least a '7' and probably due a rewatch, seeing as how I only handed it a '6.5'.
RATING: 7/10 At this point, I can't wait to tear into The Young Girls of Rochefort and hope it holds up to the standards I've set for Demy films. In fact, it'd be nice to see Rochefort blow the other two out of the water and give me a definitive Demy favorite.
MOVIES WATCHED: 890
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 111
January 8, 2015 4:34pm